News Alert


Sewer main break pours raw sewage into Malibu Creek

A bypass was installed late Wednesday, early Thursday that stopped the sewage flow into the creek.

By Laura Tate/Editor

A storm related break in a sewer line near the junction of Las Virgenes and Lost Hills Roads in Calabasas, caused by land slippage early Wednesday morning, was successfully bypassed some time before Thursday morning, ending the leakage of raw sewage from the broken pipe into Malibu Creek.

Las Virgenes Municipal Water District officials were informed of the sewer line break 8 a.m., Wednesday. The water district immediately informed regulatory agencies and the city of Malibu about the sewer main break at the Tapia Treatment Facility.

LVMWD Spokesperson Arlene Post estimated that two to three million gallons of raw sewage flows through the pipeline per day and that one third of that was diverted to Los Angeles facilities after the line broke. The remaining two thirds of the sewage poured into Malibu Creek until the break in the sewer line was bypassed.

The area of land that broke off and slipped causing the break in the line is about a football field in size, Post said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It was a big piece [of land],” she said.

The sewer line that broke is located parallel to the west side of Las Virgenes Road, south of Lost Hills Road.

David Lippman, LVMWD director of facilities and operations, said that the water district routinely sends out staff experienced in detecting problems with water and sewage lines during storms to survey possible problems. He said staff was sent out Tuesday along the route where the sewer line broke, but they did not detect any problems.

“What happened, happened pretty quickly,” Lippman said.

This interim fix was completed by crews working throughout the night, according to a press release from the LVMWD. “The bypass diverts wastewater around the break. Wastewater is pumped from a manhole upstream of the break, through temporary above ground pipes, and into a manhole downstream of the slide and break. The wastewater then resumes it’s normal course through existing sewer lines to the Tapia Water Reclamation Facility for treatment,” the press release states. Work will now begin on designing and installation of a permanent alignment.

In addition to warnings already posted by regulatory agencies regarding high levels of bacteria and pollution in ocean waters because of runoff from recent storms, the city of Malibu posted a warning on its Web site urging people to stay out of the ocean due to contamination from the spill. Malibu Creek flows into Malibu Lagoon and continues to empty out into the ocean near Surfrider State Beach.