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Sewage Spill Fouls San Diego County's Los Coches Creek

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A sewage pipe that was damaged during a rainstorm on February 27th has spilled 900,000 gallons of sewage into Los Coches Creek, which flows into the San Diego River. The broken sewer pipe was discovered on Friday, March 17th, during a routine inspection by a county work crew in unincorporated El Cajon.

The heavy rainstorm of February 27th dropped several inches of rain on San Diego County and caused widespread flooding. County spokesperson Alex Bell said Los Coches Creek was swollen by the rainstorm, causing erosion that exposed the sewage pipe, which normally crosses underground beneath the river.

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Bell described what the work crew saw as they got to the creek.

"They saw the pipe was exposed and something (carried by the water) had hit the pipe with such force that it broke. The broken end of the pipe was sticking up," she said.

The creek has been closed to public access, and county inspectors are still testing waters downstream.

"Water quality samples are being collected along Los Coches Creek to evaluate the extent of potential sewage impacts," the county said in a press release.

The size of the spill reflects the fact that the pipe damage wasn't discovered for more than two weeks. Bell said the county didn't get any calls from people complaining about a possible sewage spill. Once it was discovered, it was quickly corrected.

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"We had it repaired within a matter of hours," said Bell.