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Water Still ‘Taste, Smell Like Dirt?’ City of San Diego Says Issues Should Be Gone Soon

City of San Diego residents reached out to us two weeks ago saying their water “tastes like dirt.”

CBS 8 worked to get an answer from the city. We were told the change in the water’s taste and smell was expected to be gone within a few days.

Residents in North Park said their water is still tasting and smelling strange.

Residents Complain San Diego Drinking Water Is ‘Stinky’ and ‘Smells Like Mold’

Earthy, musty smelling water coming out of faucets in some San Diego neighborhoods will be around for a couple more days — but city officials say it presents no safety issues.

Officials said the odd smell of the water comes from a naturally occurring organic compound called 2-methylisoborneol, or MIB — caused by algae blooms in reservoirs that tend to happen during hot weather.

The San Vicente Reservoir boat dock will welcome visitors again starting June 13. Photo: City of San Diego reservoirs begin reopening

Reservoirs Begin Reopening to Recreational Use Countywide

City of San Diego lakes and reservoirs previously closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic are now in the process of reopening for public recreation.

“A lot of San Diegans have a passion for fishing and boating, and we’ve been able to partner with the County [of San Diego] to reopen all of our lakes and reservoirs to the public,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

El Capitan Reservoir and Upper Otay Reservoir reopened on June 6. San Vicente Reservoir will open to the public June 13.

Three reservoirs will re-open in July: Lake Hodges on July 1, Sutherland on July 3, and Barrett on July 8.

Miramar, Murray, and Lower Otay Reservoirs have opened in mid-May.

Standup paddleboarding will return to Lake Hodges on Saturday, July 1. Photo: City of San Diego reservoirs begin reopening

Standup paddleboarding is available at Lake Hodges on Saturday, July 1. Photo: City of San Diego

New safety and cleaning protocols initiated with the re-openings in May will remain in place at all reservoirs. The reservoirs will be open during regular business hours for walking, jogging, cycling, fishing, and boating. Normal fishing and boating fees will apply.

“As we have seen from the thousands of calls, emails, and letters to City Hall, fishing is more than a hobby, it’s a passion,” said San Diego City Councilmember Scott Sherman. “Our lakes and reservoirs are too important of a recreational asset to keep closed and I am thankful they will be opened soon.”

For more information, go to https://www.sandiego.gov/coronavirus

Lake Jennings reopens for recreation and fishing June 13

TCatfish are being restocked this week in Lakes 3 and 6 at Santee Lakes for happy fishermen. Photo: Courtesy Santee Lakes/Padre MWD

Catfish are being restocked this week in Lakes 3 and 6 at Santee Lakes for happy fishermen. Photo: Courtesy Santee Lakes/Padre Dam MWD

Lake Jennings in Lakeside, operated by the Helix Water District, will also reopen for recreation and day-use on Saturday, June 13. Hours are limited to weekends from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fishing and day-use visitors must wear masks and adhere to social distancing. The Bait and Tackle Shop will be open with restrictions. Shore fishing and private boat launching are available, but no boat rentals, night fishing, or fish stocking at this time.

In addition, Lake Jennings recently reopened for camping on June 5 with restrictions in place limiting use to every other campsite, and only by members of the same household. See the complete list of restrictions at the Lake Jennings website.

“We are thrilled to be able to reopen in compliance with the County regulations,” said Kira Haley, Lake Jennings recreation manager. “We really appreciate your understanding in this difficult time while we continue to work hard to keep our community safe.”

The public will be asked to observe COVID-19 preventative measures, including mandates requiring face coverings and physical distancing.

Santee Lakes, operated by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, expanded recreational use including fishing with some restrictions on May 16. All activities with physical distancing are allowed including jogging, bike riding, roller-skating. A facial covering is not required during physical activities but must be in your possession. Physical distancing and possession of a facial covering are required while fishing. The lake’s campsites have remained open throughout the pandemic, but campers must practice social and physical distancing while on site.

County of San Diego to help cover costs

The cost of reopening the City of San Diego’s additional reservoirs is approximately $1 million. Funding identified through a tentative cost-sharing agreement with the County of San Diego will be limited to covering enhanced staffing costs for ensuring public health is maintained in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the City Council and San Diego County Board of Supervisors will need to approve the agreement.

Public Urges Reopening of More East County Lakes, Reservoirs

While San Diego beaches and golf courses have reopened for recreation, some lakes in East County remain closed. Lake Murray is one of three lakes in the county currently open for recreation, but there are four others managed by the city of San Diego and people want access to those as well.

Miramar Reservoir will reopen for public recreation on Friday, May 25. Photo: City of San Diego San Diego Reservoirs reopen

Three San Diego Reservoirs Reopen for Public Recreation

Three City of San Diego reservoirs will reopen for public recreation this weekend. Miramar Reservoir in Scripps Ranch and Lake Murray in San Carlos open on Friday. The Lower Otay Reservoir will reopen on Saturday, May 16.

The three reservoirs will be open during regular business hours for walking, jogging, cycling, fishing, and boating, with new safety protocols in place. Normal fishing and boating fees will apply.

New protocols include:

  • Restrooms cleaned every two hours
  • Parking lot capacity reduced by 50% to maintain physical distancing
  • Users must comply with County of San Diego public health orders, including facial coverings (masks) and physical distancing

“As we continue to reopen safely and responsibly, we’re looking to expand recreational opportunities for San Diegans eager to stretch their legs or take their boat out on the lake,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

New protocols enforced through education

San Diego Police Department personnel will enforce illegal parking at the lakes, in the bike lanes, along the red curbs, or on sidewalks. Parking congestion and illegally parked vehicles originally forced San Diego to close the reservoirs to recreation on March 22. Any violations of the new protocols will be monitored with an education-first focus.

Four other San Diego reservoirs – El Capitan, Hodges, San Vicente, and Upper Otay – are still being evaluated for potential reopening at a future date. Barrett and Sutherland Reservoirs will remain closed all year.

Pedestrians at Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Walkers at Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes reopened its day-use park day with some restrictions on May 1. There is a limited occupancy each day, physical distancing is required, and hours are limited to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The lake’s campsites remain open, but campers must practice physical distancing while on site.

For more information about Santee Lakes go to: https://www.santeelakes.com/COVID19_dayuse_protocols.

For more information about the City of San Diego’s reservoirs go to: sandiego.gov/reservoirs-lakes

Fall fishing season is in full swing at San Diego County's reservoirs and lakes, including Lake Jennings. Photo: Helix Water District

Freshwater Fishing Flourishes at San Diego Region’s Reservoirs and Lakes

San Diego County’s freshwater fishing in area reservoirs and lakes managed by the region’s water agencies attracts expert anglers and beginners alike.

Of San Diego County’s 24 reservoirs and lakes, 18 allow fishing. Bryan Norris, Reservoirs and Recreation Program Manager for the City of San Diego, oversees eight locations offering recreational opportunities, including fishing.

“We are the largest provider of recreation for the domestic water supply in California,” said Norris. “No other program provides recreation at eight different reservoirs. The City of San Diego is considered a pioneer in these offerings. It’s really something that gets overlooked.”

Bass and bluegill are biting at San Diego reservoirs

Bluegill are plentiful at El Capitan Reservoir in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Photo: City of San Diego

Bluegill are plentiful at El Capitan Reservoir in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Photo: City of San Diego

What people often call lakes in the City of San Diego are actually water supply storage reservoirs and part of the City’s municipal water supply system operated by the City’s Public Utilities Department. The nine reservoirs are Barrett, El Capitan, Hodges, Lower Otay, Miramar, Murray, San Vicente, Sutherland, and Upper Otay. Lake Hodges, Sutherland, and Barrett Lake close during winter months; the remaining five are open year-round.

Lake Murray in La Mesa and Miramar Lake in Scripps Ranch are stocked regularly with trout by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The remaining fish species are self-sustaining, such as bass, catfish, bluegill, and crappie.

“We’re so well known for our bass fisheries at the city lakes,” said Norris. “We have multiple tournaments at our reservoirs, it’s our top fishery. They are serious, it’s like any organized sport.”

Trout most popular at Lake Jennings

Brian Pierce of El Cajon caught his limit of trout at Lake Jennings in March, and planned to return for the opening of fall trout season 2019 last weekend. Photo: Helix Water District

Brian Pierce of El Cajon caught his limit of trout at Lake Jennings in March and planned to return for the opening of fall trout season this year. Photo: Helix Water District

Lake Jennings in Lakeside, operated by the Helix Water District, opened its popular trout season November 15. It stocks 20,000 pounds of trout annually on a biweekly schedule between November and April, and 10,000 pounds of catfish in the summer months. It recently received 2,500 pounds of rainbow trout stock from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho.

Helix Recreation Manager Kira Haley said she works closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine the correct timing for stocking the lake for eager fishing enthusiasts.

“If you don’t stock it, they won’t come,” said Haley. “We base the timing on water temperature for the trout, between November and April, when it’s low enough for trout to survive. When it’s not low enough, we stock catfish.”

In August, catfish were stocked at Lake Jennings. Photo: Helix Water DIstrict

In August, catfish were stocked at Lake Jennings. Photo: Helix Water District

In addition, large-mouth bass, red-ear sunfish, and bluegill, as well as channel and blue catfish live in Lake Jennings. Sign up for the Lake Jennings Fish Report online to see what fish are biting.

Haley says she enjoys her new role as a fisheries manager.

“I wouldn’t have called myself a fisherman before I got here,” said Haley. “I know more about fish than I ever thought I would know.

“It’s a very active community. They care so much about the lake and the health of the fish and the fisheries. It’s a great group of people to work with. Most fishermen are good stewards of the land itself. They see a piece of trash, they pick it up.”

Santee Lakes a popular family fishing stop

Santee Lakes, operated by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, also stocks 12,500 pounds of trout and 24,000 pounds of catfish annually in the fall months for its anglers.

The catfish have been biting big this season at Santee Lakes. Photo: Courtesy Santee Lakes/Padre MWD

The catfish have been biting big this season at Santee Lakes. Photo: Courtesy Santee Lakes/Padre MWD

San Diego County’s year-round lakes also offer hiking, walking, biking, and picnicking.

Three of San Diego’s reservoirs (Lake Hodges, San Vicente, and El Capitan) allow windsurfing, water skiing, and the use of personal watercraft. Stand up paddle boarding was added this year at Lake Hodges. Barrett Lake and Lake Sutherland offer bird hunting.

Santee Lakes is among the county's most popular family recreation spots. Photo: Santee Lakes/Padre Dam MWD

Santee Lakes is among the county’s most popular family recreation spots. Photo: Santee Lakes/Padre Dam MWD

Norris hopes more people will visit and enjoy an escape from everyday urban life.

“There are so many reservoirs around the county that provide recreational opportunities; it’s unfortunate. Everyone thinks of beaches when they think of San Diego,” said Norris.

Stand up paddle boarding is a new activity now permitted at Lake Hodges. Photo: City of San Diego

Stand up paddle boarding is a new activity permitted at Lake Hodges. Photo: City of San Diego

Easier access to recreation information on new website

As part of an ongoing effort on making it easier for the public to access recreation information, the City of San Diego reservoir lakes website has been revised and enhanced.

The website features fishing, hunting, and recreation information, an interactive map, and a photo gallery. New graphics help anglers determine the types of fish available at the City’s reservoirs. Expanded details provide users with access to the fish catch report and details about boating and permits as well as employment and volunteer opportunities.

The Water Authority is in the final stages of the Lake Murray to Sweetwater Reservoir Pipeline 3 Relining Project, including the restoration of roadways to pre-construction condition. La Mesa Relining Project

La Mesa Relining Project on Pace for Completion in June

Major construction activities have concluded at a pipeline relining project in La Mesa and Spring Valley, and the entire project is on track for completion by the end of June.

The Lake Murray to Sweetwater Reservoir Pipeline 3 Relining Project rehabilitated 4.3 miles of 66- and 69-inch diameter pipes, extending the pipeline’s service life by several decades and helping ensure continued water system reliability.

The timely success of the project underscores the value of collaboration by the Water Authority’s project team; public agency stakeholders such as the city of La Mesa and Helix Water District; and the contractor, L.H. Woods & Sons, Inc.

Construction began in September 2017. The bulk of the work was performed underground, through portals, which allow easy access to the pipe. This process is about half the cost of a conventional pipeline replacement project and is less disruptive to the environment and surrounding communities.

Project part of larger Water Authority effort

The 4.3-mile project is part of a larger effort by the Water Authority to rehabilitate 82 miles of its pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe installed between the early 1960s and 80s throughout the county. This type of pipe has been found to be less reliable than previously thought. In response, the Water Authority launched the Pipeline Relining Program to reinforce these pipes with steel liners, increasing their service life by 75 years or more.

With the last of the new steel liners installed, welded, grouted and lined with cement mortar, the remaining work includes site restoration – such as re-paving and re-striping roadways – and demobilizing.

With the completion of the Lake Murray to Sweetwater project, the Water Authority has rehabilitated more than half of its pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe.