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San Diego Releases Water From Crumbling Lake Hodges Into San Dieguito River

Following recent rains, the city of San Diego started releasing water from Lake Hodges this week. The move, mandated by state safety officials, is part of ongoing maintenance at the reservoir’s deteriorating century-old dam. About 250 million gallons of water will flow into the San Dieguito River using valves in the dam, according to city officials.

City of San Diego to Release Water from Hodges Reservoir into San Dieguito River

SAN DIEGO – Due to past rainfall and a state mandate with regard to water level, the City of San Diego is scheduled to release approximately 250 million gallons of water from Hodges Reservoir into the San Dieguito River. This will lower the current water level by approximately 2 feet. The water release, using valves in the dam, is scheduled to begin Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, and will continue for approximately two days until the reservoir elevation is approximately 275 feet.

New Cracks Found in Lake Hodges Dam Will Lengthen Repair Work, Delay Re-opening of Fishing, Boating

The discovery of previously unknown cracks and other concrete defects in the Hodges Dam will extend ongoing repair work by several months, forcing San Diego officials to restrict recreational activities on Lake Hodges and keep its levels low for longer.

The newly discovered defects could prompt state regulators to lower the 104-year-old dam’s rating from “poor” to “unsatisfactory” and order all water removed, but city Public Utilities Director Juan Guerreiro said he hopes the ongoing repairs will prevent that.

City of San Diego Identifies Additional Repairs Needed at Hodges Dam

Ongoing repairs currently underway at Hodges Reservoir Dam have led the City of San Diego to determine more work is needed to address additional defects that were detected and to ensure the safety of the dam. This discovery will likely delay completion of this crucial repair project by several months.

Lake Hodges Dam Repair Continues

The lower water levels people might be seeing at Lake Hodges are not drought-related, but instead are due to the ongoing work repairing the 100-year-old Lake Hodges Dam. The emergency work on the dam began in May and is expected to be completed by October.

Lake Hodges Closed for Summer Due to Dam Repair Project

If you live by Lake Hodges or drive by the area often, you’ve probably noticed something unusual – the low water levels and lack of any summer recreation.

“Usually the weekends are packed full of people with kayaks or fishing boats,” said Jeff Sigua, a frequent lake visitor.

Hodges Reservoir Will be Closed for Recreation During Five-Month Project

In the coming weeks, the City of San Diego will begin emergency repairs on the Lake Hodges Dam at the Hodges Reservoir in Escondido outside of Rancho Santa Fe.

During a recent inspection, the city identified areas in the dam wall that require repair and need be sealed. In order to complete the work, the water level of the reservoir needs to be lowered by about 18 feet from its current level to an elevation of 275 feet.

The repair project is expected to continue for an estimated five months.

Repair Work on Hodges Dam to Begin

As part of continuing efforts to maintain and invest in City of San Diego infrastructure, repair work starts within the next two weeks on Hodges Dam, at the Hodges Reservoir north of Rancho Bernardo.

“It’s been over a century since Hodges Dam was constructed, and we are making significant investments to maintain this vital asset,” said Alia Khouri, Deputy Chief Operating Officer.

Lake Hodges-Hodges Reservoir-Hodges Dam

Repair Work on Hodges Dam to Begin

As part of continuing efforts to maintain and invest in City of San Diego infrastructure, repair work starts within the next two weeks on Hodges Dam, at the Hodges Reservoir north of Rancho Bernardo.

“It’s been over a century since Hodges Dam was constructed, and we are making significant investments to maintain this vital asset,” said Alia Khouri, Deputy Chief Operating Officer. “Projects like this one are crucial for the City’s aging infrastructure system in order to maintain the safe and efficient delivery of City services.”

During a recent inspection, staff identified areas in the dam wall that require repair and need to be sealed. To access these areas, the water level of the reservoir needs to be lowered by approximately 18 feet from its current level to an elevation of 275 feet. The reservoir may need to be lowered below 275 feet if additional areas needing repair are identified during the project. The repair project is expected to continue for an estimated five months.

Water transfers to maximize savings

The Hodges Dam, shown here in 1929, was built in 1918. Photo: UCSD

The Hodges Dam, shown here in 1929, was built in 1918. Photo: UC San Diego

The primary function of Hodges Reservoir is to store water for potable use. The City is working with its regional water agency partners on a plan to draw down the reservoir level to maximize water savings. Most, if not all, of the water will be transferred to other reservoirs, while some water may be released into the San Dieguito River.

“The City of San Diego is committed to maintaining Hodges Dam to ensure the protection of our water resources and public enjoyment of the reservoir,” said Juan Guerreiro, Interim Director of the City’s Public Utilities Department. “We appreciate the public’s patience while we complete the project.”

To access areas of the Hodges Dam for repairs, the water level of the reservoir needs to be lowered by approximately 18 feet from its current level to an elevation of 275 feet. As a result of the lower water level, the Hodges Reservoir will be closed for recreation while the repair project is underway. Boating and fishing will still be available at other City of San Diego reservoirs. The San Dieguito River Park trails and facilities around Hodges Reservoir will not be impacted during the drawdown or dam construction work.

Operated and maintained by the San Diego Public Utilities Department, the reservoir currently serves the San Diego County Water Authority, San Dieguito Water District, and Santa Fe Irrigation District, and the City of San Diego. San Diego operates nine reservoirs, including Hodges.

(Editor’s note: The City of San Diego, San Dieguito Water District, and the Santa Fe Irrigation District are three of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

San Diego Launches $10-Million Assessment of Aging City Dams, Including Three Rated ‘Poor’

San Diego is launching a $10-million effort to complete risk assessments of all nine of the city’s aging dams — only three of which are considered in satisfactory condition. City officials say the assessments are expected to reveal problems that will require an estimated $1 billion in repairs and upgrades in coming decades — and possibly some replacement dams in extreme cases. San Diego’s dams are among the oldest in the state and the nation. State officials said three dams are in “poor” condition — Hodges, El Capitan and Lower Otay — and three have been rated “fair”: Morena, Barrett and Lake Murray.