Credit: Amanda Correa (file)

Groundhog Day came a week early to Santa Barbara this year with the County Public Health Department on Thursday issuing its third beach closure notice of the month after roughly 5,000 gallons of raw sewage escaped a broken sewer pipe and found its way into a creek emptying into the ocean. In this week’s incident, it’s East Beach that has been closed to all recreational water contact after the untreated sewage spilled from a broken sewer pipe on the bridge spanning Sycamore Creek at East Mason Street and was carried out to sea.

Just last week, approximately 5,760 gallons of sewage from a compromised sewage line escaped into San Ysidro Creek, shutting down both Miramar Beach and Fernald Point Beach in Montecito. And the week before that, West Beach was closed after 5,000 gallons of sewage spilled into a storm drain discharging to Mission Creek at the height of the storm on January 9.

The culprit of all three spills is believed to be the parade of atmospheric rivers that brought not only historic levels of rainfall to the area but also millions of dollars in damage to local infrastructure, including, it appears, Santa Barbara’s sewage system.

In the statement released this Thursday by County Public Health, the city reported the broken pipe was repaired Wednesday evening and that “the damage and associated release likely occurred as a result of the recent storm event.”

The affected area of East Beach is within one-quarter mile of the Sycamore Creek outfall and has been posted with signs warning the public to avoid contact with the water until sample results indicate the water is safe for recreational use. Public Health warns the public that “contact with sewage-contaminated water increases the risk for certain types of illnesses.” More information can be found about water quality in the county at

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