MONTEREY (KPIX) — Nearly 5 million gallons of sewage spilled into the Monterey Bay forcing several popular beaches to close. Signs were posted at seven beaches in Monterey County warning people to stay out of the water.

It began Friday, after a waste water facility in Marina failed and took crews hours to stop it.

The spill brought David’s vacation to the beaches to a halt.

“It’s troubling, I don’t want to go out there,” he said.

Now he wants answers.

Signs warning beachgoers to stay out of the water due to high bacteria levels went up a couple of days ago.

“My concern is where, and where did the contamination come in, and how much, and how long is it going to be contaminated,” he said.

So how did it happen?

John Ramirez works for the Monterey County Environmental Health Bureau.

“That’s a question the Monterey One facility is investigating now,” he said.

Some 4.9 million gallons of raw sewage flowed into Monterey Bay after equipment failed at a wastewater treatment facility that serves Salinas and other peninsula cities.

“There was some type of a gate valve, or a gate that wasn’t properly shut, or failed to shut,” said Ramirez.

He said that happened between eleven and midnight Friday.

Crews finished repairs and stopped the flow of sewage around 4:30 a.m.

Beach closure signs were still going up around 10 a.m., nearly twelve hours after the sewage spill.

“Unless there are really early surfers that get out that early, it might’ve been very few people that were in contact with the water,” Ramirez said.

Health officials estimate the amount of raw sewage that leaked into the ocean could fill a football field 50 feet deep.

“It’s basically what anybody can flush down their toilets,” said Ramirez.

Authorities will be testing the water until it is deemed safe. There is also a rain advisory at Monterey Bay, which means the water is closed because of runoff which may keep the beaches closed all week.

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