Freshwater – Lake Hodges dam project extended into spring, 2023 opener in jeopardy

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THE DAM AT LAKE HODGES has stood between the lake and Del Dios Canyon since 1918. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS
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BY MIKE STEVENS 

ESCONDIDO – In an announcement that came as no shock to the Southern California angling community, the City of San Diego announced completion of the Lake Hodges Dam repair project will be delayed and the work will now continue into spring of 2023. The original plan was for the project to take an estimated five months from when it started on May 19, and it should now go without saying that the typical Hodges opener (late February) is in jeopardy.

“Our top priority must be preserving the integrity and safety of the 104-year-old Hodges Dam and the surrounding communities,” said Council Member Marni von Wilpert. “While I understand that this news is frustrating, public safety and Dam integrity must not be compromised.”

When the project kicked off in May, Western Outdoor News was quick to suggest the shut down would likely extend well past the five-month estimate because there would be no reason to re-open the lake in late October when it closes for the season anyway. Unfortunately, the same logic was not put in play when deciding when to start the project which kicked off in the heart of the spring fishing season rather than when the lake was closed for four-plus months prior to the 2022 opener.

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According to a press release from the City of San Diego, Work was originally scheduled for the summer months to avoid the rainy season and fluctuating water levels at the reservoir. The plan called for lowering the lake 18 feet with the possibility of lowering it further if it was discovered that additional areas of the dam are in need of repair. San Diego averages about 10.31 inches of rain per year.

During a prior inspection, the City of San Diego officials identified areas in the dam wall that required repair. Water was transferred to other reservoirs and treatment plants order to draw down the lake level. That allowed for the recent discovery of the full extent of the defects which are causing the delays.

WE KNEW IT WAS COMING – Dam repairs at Lake Hodges will now drag into spring leaving the opener very much in question. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS
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