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Windsurfing, paddleboarding set to resume at Lake Hodges Sept. 13

San Diego is taking a ‘conservative approach’ to allowing water contact as officials monitor the levels of enterococcus bacteria, which comes from fecal waste.

SAN DIEGO — For the first time in more than a year, the City of San Diego will reopen Lake Hodges to windsurfing, paddleboarding and wing foiling. The limited-water-contact sports will resume on Wednesday, Sept. 13, the city said in a statement to CBS 8.

The announcement is great news to windsurfer Kevin Kidd-Tackaberry, who has been fighting the city over the closure of Lake Hodges to wind sports.

“We're thrilled. For so many people, this is a great thing,” said Kidd-Tackaberry. “This is such a beautiful place. I mean, it has a history since 1993 for sailboarding and for various types of wind sports.”

CBS 8 has aired a series of reports on Lake Hodges, the repair of the reservoir’s dam, and the lowering of the water level due to the dam being 105 years old. Several viewers emailed CBS 8 in recent days asking why the lake was still off-limits to windsurfing and paddleboarding.

The city emailed CBS 8 the following statement in response to our questions:

"The City conducts weekly monitoring at Hodges Reservoir. Water in Hodges had been consistently testing above the threshold for enterococcus bacteria between September 2022 and July 2023. On May 31, 2023, when Hodges reopened for recreation, the enterococcus bacteria were above the allowed threshold defined in our permit from the State Division of Drinking Water and therefore we were not allowed to open for water contact activities at that time. With the State-mandated water level restriction at Hodges, the water in the reservoir is being maintained at a lower level and water is staying in the reservoir for longer periods than any time previously. As such, we do not have historical water quality data on which to make good comparisons or forecast potential harmful water quality conditions. Due to this, the City is taking a conservative approach to reopening the reservoir to water contact. In testing through the last month, the levels of enterococcus bacteria have been below the threshold, so we will be opening for water contact recreation activities on Sept. 13, 2023. We have had high temperatures and recent rain, which historically have resulted in higher enterococcus bacteria levels in the water. We also had a spike in this bacteria level in September of last year. We will continue to closely monitor the bacteria levels and we will close access for water contact activities if levels exceed the threshold."

A city spokesperson also pointed out that Lake Hodges is completely closed to the public every year from November through January.

“They could have opened this three weeks ago. But we're thrilled. We're happy that it's open. I just wish they would have been a little more forthright and transparent with us in explaining the situation. I had to go to the state to really get some information,” said Kidd-Tackaberry.

CBS 8 obtained a copy of the City of San Diego’s 2018 permit amendment to its Reservoir Recreational Program.

The State Water Resources Control Board approved the city’s 2018 application “to revise the City’s reservoir recreational program by adding stand up paddle boarding and sailboarding in Hodges, San Vicente, and El Capitan Reservoirs to the existing water contact program.”

As it stands now, however, only Lake Hodges will be allowing paddleboarding and wind sports starting Wednesday.

“There are no current plans to allow paddle boarding or sailboarding at reservoirs other than Hodges. Both are allowed, however, at Mission Bay,” city spokesperson, Arian Collings, emailed CBS 8.

Windsurfer Andrew Cunningham was one of windsurfers who emailed CBS 8 last week asking that we look into the Lake Hodges closure.

“I hope to see a lot of people out on the lake having a great time (on Wednesday),” said Cunningham. “I’d like to thank local News 8 for following up on this story. It's been a big help in getting things done.”

The city said it will continue to do weekly water testing at Hodges Reservoir. If bacteria levels exceed the allowed threshold, windsurfing and paddleboarding will be shut down again.

At CBS 8, we are always Working for You and our community. This is a station promise that we will go the extra mile to solve a problem our audience can’t solve themselves. We want to hear your ideas on how we can cover and help our community. If you have a story idea, please email us at workingforyou@cbs8.com.

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