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Massive sewage spill dumps estimated 10 to 16 million gallons of raw sewage in Ventura County arroyo

Ventura County Public Works crews work to repair a damaged sewage line in Moorpark.
Ventura County
Ventura County Public Works crews work to repair a damaged sewage line in Moorpark.

Storms blamed for damaging decades old underground pipeline in Moorpark.

It’s a massive sewage spill in Ventura County that may have gone undetected for weeks because of its remote location.

"It's hard to say's somewhere between10 million gallons, and 16 million gallons," said Joe Pope, the Director of Water and Sanitation for the Ventura County Public Works Department. Pope says the spill involves the Ventura County Water and Sanitation facility which serves Moorpark.

It’s pipeline network was impacted by recent storms. They discovered the rupture Tuesday, after realizing there were some flow irregularities in the system.

The break involved an underground pipeline which was believed to have been spilling about 250,000 gallons of raw sewage a day into Arroyo Simi.

It was because of that remote location of the break people didn’t notice the problem.

"We found it Tuesday morning, in a remote location of Arroyo Simi just west of the Highway 118 flyover, down in the Arroyo just north of the railroad tracks," said Pope.

Pope says while the leak was discovered Tuesday, they couldn’t get access to railroad right-of-way to make emergency repairs until Wednesday. That stopped the sewage flow. Repairs could take one to two months. The pipeline is more than a half century old.

While the spill is estimated to have been around 250,000 gallons a day, Pope admits its hard to know the exact total.

Without knowing exactly when the rupture occurred, county officials say the best ballpark on the total spill is between 10 and 16 million gallons of raw sewage.

The county run facility is critical to tens of thousands of eastern Ventura County residents.

Signs have been posted along the Arroyo Simi warning people to stay out of the area because of the spill. The waterway doesn’t directly connect to the ocean, so there’s no concern about the spill creating pollution issues for the region’s beaches.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.