Scuba diving lovers cove monterey

The cove at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove, were the spill took place

If you were planning on diving the Monterey Bay this weekend, you might not have to cancel your plans.

The 100,000-gallon sewage spill at at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove on Monday was actually 220,000 gallons, according to most recent estimates, and poured into the bay from 10:42 a.m. to 5:24 p.m. on Monday. Even with the increased amount of sewage in the water, it’s safe to be in the water in the Monterey Bay, with the exception of the Lovers Point area, says the health department.

According to the Monterey County Health Department, the only beach closure in the Monterey Bay area is at Lovers Point. All other areas, including the breakwater at San Carlos Beach, are not considered to be health hazards at this time and are open to the public. The health department reported that they will continue to take background samples at locations away from the spill area and compare them to the samples taken at the spill site to determine when the water is OK at Lovers Point.

When residential sewage spills into Monterey Bay’s water, it is made up mostly of the wastewater from toilets, showers, tubs and sinks. It contains human excrement, detergents, oils, pharmaceuticals and whatever else people may dispose of down drains or commodes.

Divers training at the Breakwater in Monterey.

Divers training at the Breakwater in Monterey.

How long it takes mother nature to break down the waste may be surprising to some. Paul Sciuto, Deputy General Manager of the MRWPCA, says the water at Lovers Point might be safe by this Memorial Day weekend, when thousands of tourists will be in town. It all depends on how quickly the bacteria in the water breaks down the waste and returns to safe levels.

Divers and beach-goers are advised to check water conditions and make their own decisions on whether or not to dive in the Monterey Bay this weekend. For a look at weather and surface conditions forecast for this weekend and a live cam of the bay, please click here.

For the latest information about beach postings or closures based on the most recent bacteriological test information, call the Beach Condition Hotline 1-800-347-6363. You can also check out conditions and bacterial count levels on their website here, but note that all areas are not updated daily.