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The Miramar Reservoir dam under construction in 1960. The reservoir marks its 60th anniversary i 2020. Photo: Jeff Pasek, City of San Diego

Miramar Reservoir Marks 60 Years of Service

For 60 years, Miramar Reservoir has been an integral part of the City of San Diego’s drinking water system and offers San Diegans a popular recreational area. Now, the reservoir is being called into service to play a vital part in San Diego’s future Pure Water system to sustain a reliable water supply.

The City of San Diego is commemorating the 60th anniversary of Miramar Reservoir, its role in the region’s history, and the part the reservoir will play in the future.

“We celebrate not only Miramar Reservoir’s past, but the critical role it will play when the Pure Water system is completed,” said Shauna Lorance, director of the San Diego Public Utilities Department. “Miramar Reservoir will continue to be a key part of our water system for many years to come.”

Role in San Diego’s history

An aerial view of the Miramar Reservoir under construction in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek, City of San Diego

An aerial view of the Miramar Reservoir under construction in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek/City of San Diego

Miramar Reservoir marks 60

Miramar was the last of the City’s nine reservoirs to be developed. It was completed in 1960 as part of the second San Diego Aqueduct. The location previously had been the site of a small reservoir serving the vast ranch of newspaper publisher Edward W. Scripps.

Water flowing south to the reservoir originates from both the Colorado River Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct. The earthen embankment dam has a maximum height of 165 feet measured from the downstream toe, and has a base of 1,180 feet.

Dignitaries attend the Miramar Reservoir dedication ceremony in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek, City of San Diego

Dignitaries attend the Miramar Reservoir dedication ceremony in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek/City of San Diego

It was constructed by contractors Einer Brothers Inc. of Escondido and McCammon Construction, for $1.42 million. Land acquisition and engineering costs were approximately $730,000. Funds for the project came from an $11 million water bond approved by San Diego voters in June 1958.

When full, the reservoir covers 274 surface acres, reaches a maximum water depth of 114 feet, and has four miles of shoreline. Miramar Reservoir has a water storage capacity of 6,682 acre-feet.

Miramar Water Treatment Plant, which was completed in 1962 at a cost of $3.5 million, and expanded and upgraded in 2010, treats and filters drinking water distributed to customers in the northern part of San Diego.

Since the mid-1960s, the reservoir has been a popular recreational destination. An estimated 100,000 people visit Miramar each year to enjoy jogging, walking, biking, fishing, boating, picnicking, among other activities.

Miramar Reservoir to become part of Pure Water San Diego

Today in 2020, the Miramar Reservoir is poised to play a key role in the Pure Water San Diego project. Photo: City of San Diego

The Miramar Reservoir is poised to play a key role in the Pure Water San Diego project. Photo: City of San Diego

When the Pure Water system comes online, Miramar Reservoir will switch from holding imported water to holding purified water received through a pipeline from the planned North City Pure Water Facility. After water has been purified at the North City Pure Water Facility, it will then be transferred via pipeline to Miramar Reservoir. The Miramar Water Treatment Plant will clean the water again, and the water will be distributed to homes and businesses throughout northern San Diego.

Miramar Reservoir will continue use into the foreseeable future as it helps provide one-third of San Diego’s water supply locally by the end of 2035.

Pre-construction activities are currently underway as part of Phase 1 of the Pure Water San Diego Program. Photo: City of San Diego

Pure Water San Diego Projects Underway After Receiving Milestone Permit

Pre-construction activities at the North City Water Reclamation Plant and the future Pure Water Facility are underway as part of Phase 1 of the Pure Water San Diego program. More than 80,000 cubic yards of soil have been moved to date during initial site work, the equivalent of approximately 25 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Last month, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted an order granting a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES permit, to the City of San Diego to add purified water to the Miramar Reservoir for Phase 1 of  Pure Water San Diego. The approval is a major milestone for the program.

NPDES permits contain discharge limits, monitoring and reporting requirements, and other provisions to ensure water quality and public health. The NPDES permit issued to the City is the first for a reservoir augmentation project in the state of California.

By implementing Phase 1, the City will be able to produce and store 30 million gallons per day of local water supplies and decrease its reliance on imported water.

Pure Water San Diego Phase 1 includes several projects

More than 80,000 cubic yards of soil have been moved to date during initial site work on the Pure Water San Diego project, which is equivalent of approximately 25 Olympic sized swimming pools. Photo: City of San Diego

More than 80,000 cubic yards of soil have been moved to date during initial site work on the Pure Water San Diego project, which is the equivalent of approximately 25 Olympic sized swimming pools. Photo: City of San Diego

Phase 1 includes a series of pipelines and facilities to convey purified water to Miramar Reservoir. Adding the purified water to Miramar Reservoir will increase the reservoir’s beneficial use and optimize protection of water quality. The purified water will blend with the City’s imported sources and be treated again at the Miramar Water Treatment Plant and distributed to the public.

The purified water distribution area will include the portion of the City of San Diego that receives potable water from the Miramar Water Treatment Plant in addition to the City of Del Mar.

Phase 1 of Pure Water San Diego includes several projects: the Morena Pump Station and Pipelines, the North City Water Reclamation Plant Expansion, the North City Pure Water Facility, and the North City Pure Water Pump Station and Pipeline.