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Indybay Feature
Mon Jan 22 2018 (Updated 01/23/18)
Millions of Gallons of Untreated Sewage Spill into Monterey Bay
Treatment Plant Discharges 4.4 Million Gallons of Untreated Wastewater into Monterey Bay
Approximately 4.4 million gallons of untreated wastewater flowed into the waters of Monterey Bay through an ocean outfall discharge pipe 2.5 miles offshore, the result of an “equipment control failure” at the Monterey One Water Regional Treatment Plant in Marina on January 19 and 20. In response, the Monterey County Health Department issued beach closures, which lasted until the evening of January 22, from Moss Landing to Stillwater Cove. However, all Monterey County Beaches have been posted with a rain advisory due to the current weather. The public is advised not to have ocean water contact for three days after the rain event on January 22. The department warns that contact with contaminated water may cause gastroenteritis and other waterborne illnesses.

Monterey Bay is unique in having one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet, since cold water species like Chinook salmon, rockfish and lingcod thrive in its waters, as well as warmer water species such as white seabass, bonito and barracuda, particularly during El Nino events. It also features one of the largest arrays of surfperch in its waters, including barred, silver, walleye, pile, rubberlipped, black, rainbow, striped and walleye perch.

"I find it interesting that you have to dig a little in all the reports that the spill was in Marina, not Monterey actually," Frank Emerson, local angler and conservationist, commented. "It seems a little downplayed to me that it is severe pollution of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and that 'Protected' status under the MLPA designation does not really protect against actual threats to the habitat. It only regulates unfairly against the fishing public."

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