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San Diego releases water from crumbling Lake Hodges into the San Dieguito River

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Following recent rains, the City of San Diego began draining water from Lake Hodges this week. The move, mandated by state security officials, is part of ongoing maintenance of the reservoir’s deteriorating century-old dam.

About 250 million gallons of water will flow into the San Dieguito River using gates in the dam, according to city officials. Residents living along the banks of the river should be aware of the situation, although officials said they did not expect flooding.

“Visitors to this area of ​​the San Dieguito River Park and generally along the San Dieguito River should take precautions as the water level in the creek will rise,” said Juan Guerreiro, director of the services department. city ​​audiences. “The city will continue to monitor weather forecasts, precipitation and the water level at Hodges Reservoir to determine if additional water releases should be planned during the rainy season.”

The city has coordinated with the Santa Fe Irrigation District and the San Dieguito Water District to divert some of the flows to potable water systems. Officials are also consulting with the area’s wholesaler, the San Diego County Water Authority.

The move will lower the lake’s water level by about 2 feet as crews continue repairs that are expected to continue for several more months. Recently discovered cracks in the dam south of Escondido raised alarm bells with the state’s Division of Dam Safety.

The city hopes it can avoid emptying the reservoir on state orders by fixing what local authorities have called “superficial concrete defects.” Repairs were due to be completed this fall, but newly discovered flaws have pushed that deadline back to spring.

For safety reasons, the water level in the reservoir should not exceed 275 feet, 40 feet below the elevation of the spillway. As a result, the lake was closed to boating and fishing until at least February. Trails and facilities at San Dieguito River Park remained open.

The city plans to build a new reservoir downstream, but officials said the $180 million project won’t be complete for at least another decade. Concerns about Hodges Dam, which was built in 1918, intensified after faults in Oroville Dam near Sacramento prompted evacuations in 2017.

The city began conducting risk assessments of its old dams last year. Officials said they expected to find up to $1 billion in needed repairs and upgrades. The city’s dams are among the oldest in the country, with El Capitan and Lower Otay also in poor condition.

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