Eight beaches were reopened Monday after nearly 5 million gallons of sewage spilled into Monterey Bay over the weekend. But Monterey County officials were posting warning advisories about looming rain that could trigger new pollution issues.
The sewage spill was stopped early Saturday morning, but not before millions of gallons contaminated at least eight beaches, prompting the closures, Monterey County officials said.
The spill was from a wastewater treatment facility in Marina and was caused by an equipment failure, officials said.
The reopened beaches are Carmel Beach at Ocean Avenue, Monterey's Municipal Beach, Lovers Point Park, the beach at Monterey State Beach, San Carlos Beach, the beach at Sunset Drive at Asilomar, the beach at Spanish Bay and Stillwater Cove.
County officials said all other beaches also remain open.
On Monday, the Monterey County Environmental Heath Department officials evaluated tests and had hoped to reopen some beaches. Initially, they said decisions more likely would be made Tuesday, but they made the call later Monday afternoon.
It’ll be a relief for people who showed up this week to look at the breathtaking scenery but found out they couldn’t get as close as they wanted.
"I walked down on Asilomar Beach barefoot, and I see this sign that says look out, the end of the world is coming, you know?" said Irene Evers Elisabeth, a Pacific Grove artist.
Some visitors were worried it actually could be the end for ocean inhabitants.
"You know, as a beach goer, it’s very unfortunate to hear that," Santa Cruz resident Kathy Geerin said. "But I worry about the animal life too, the long-term effect that what we do has on our sea life."
If it rains in Monterey County, a rain advisory will be in effect for all county beaches to tell residents and visitors to avoid having contact with ocean water for at least three days after the last rain.
The advisory will be in effect even if lab results show the water's not contaminated because the rain stirs up the pollution to unsafe levels, officials said.
Contact with contaminated water may cause water-borne illnesses such as gastroenteritis.
For more information on Monterey Peninsula beaches, residents and visitors can call (800) 347-6363 or visit www.mtyhd.org/beaches.
Bay City News contributed to this report.