SAN DIEGO — San Diego leaders have started taking precautions in case oil from last weekend’s pipeline break in Orange County reaches local beaches this week.
“It appears some of the oil is making its way south, but it has yet to enter San Diego County waters,” Jeff Toney, who runs the county’s Office of Emergency Services, and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said in a joint statement. “Some protective measures have been put in place by response agencies including a protective boom at the mouth of the Santa Margarita River on Camp Pendleton.”
The officials added that there was “no immediate threat to San Diego County” but said a team was acting proactively to protect local watersheds, beaches and wildlife.
Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority issued a joint statement of their own Wednesday, addressing any potential impact to the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad desalination plant. That facility is San Diego County’s largest single source of locally produced drinking water, generating nearly 80 billion gallons of drought-proof water since it opened in December 2015.
“Water quality in Carlsbad’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon — the desalination plant’s intake source — is continually monitored for more than a half- dozen seawater parameters, including oil-in-water concentration,” the statement reads.
“While there has been no indication of oil from Orange County reaching Carlsbad, the facility’s operating team will continue to closely monitor intake water quality,” it continues.
The Carlsbad Desalination Plant produces around 50 million gallons of water a day, an operation that could be shut down if oil levels reached 300 parts per billion.
“A warning signal here is 100 parts per billion, right now we are magnitudes from that so that is the good news,” said Michelle Peters, technical and compliance manager for Poseidon Water.
According to the statement, officials are considering another floating boom, this time placed at the mouth of the lagoon to protect marine life and keep the plant running. It wasn’t immediately clear when, or if, that project would be completed.
“We are looking at ways to protect the inlet of the lagoon,” Peters said. “Putting barriers, booms that could block out oil from coming into the lagoon itself and then we can collect that and remove that.”
Coastal residents who see any signs of oil should call 1-877-823-6926. San Diegans can also check for updates and get more information on oil spills on the state website Southern California Spill Response.
City News Service contributed to this report.