BY MIKE STEVENS
ESCONDIDO – The City of San Diego ordered the release of approximately 250 million gallons of water from Lake Hodges into the San Dieguito River last week for safety reasons following recent rains during ongoing dam repairs.
The California Division of Safety of Dams requires the water level at Lake Hodges to remain below 275 feet, or, 40 feet below the spillway. The release will drop the current water level about two feet.
“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 city’s public utilities department in a press release. “The city will continue to monitor weather forecasts, rainfall and the water level at Hodges Reservoir to determine if additional water releases need to be planned during the rainy season.”
Lake Hodges reservoir keeper Conway Bowman told Western Outdoor News the water level was too low to pump that water up to Olivenhain Reservoir, so the only option was to release it into the river below the dam.
Lake Hodges closed for the season when the drawdown of the lake began at noon on Thursday, May 19. The closure was made in order to facilitate the infrastructure enhancement program aimed at making what is being called “critical and long-needed improvements” to the popular lake’s dam. As a result, Hodges closed to both boating and fishing.
An official City of San Diego press release that went out in May said, “During a recent inspection, the city identified areas in the dam that require repair and need 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.”
Then this past September, the City of San Diego announced completion of the Lake Hodges Dam repair project will be delayed and the work would continue into spring of 2023 which has jeopardized the lake’s historical opener.