SAN DIEGO — While repairing parts of Hodges Reservoir Dam, city workers found additional defects that need to be addressed, likely delaying completion of the repairs by several months, the city announced Monday.
During a prior inspection, city workers identified areas in the dam wall that required repair and needed to be sealed. To access areas on the dam for repair, the water level of the reservoir was lowered 18 feet to an elevation of 275 feet by transferring water to other reservoirs and treatment plants, officials said.
The lower elevation allowed for the discovery of the full extent of the defects, which will likely require the project to continue into spring 2023, according to the city.
Since the water level was lowered, the reservoir has been closed for boating and fishing. The San Dieguito River Park trails and facilities around Hodges Reservoir have remained open to the public during the repairs, which began in May.
"Our top priority must be preserving the integrity and safety of the 104-year-old Hodges Dam and the surrounding communities," said Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert, who represents District 5 and the Hodges Reservoir area. "While I understand that this news is frustrating, public safety and dam integrity must not be compromised and I thank the Public Utilities Department for their diligent work."
Typically, Hodges Reservoir is closed to the public from November through February. Because the repair work will likely continue into spring 2023, limited access may be necessary and will be determined early next year, according to the city. Work was originally scheduled for the summer months to avoid the rainy season and fluctuating water levels at the reservoir.
The city is working with the state's Division of Safety of Dams and local water agencies that use the reservoir.
"While this is a setback for the project schedule, it is critical that we do the best job possible to ensure that Hodges Dam remains safe," said Juan Guerreiro, director of the city's public utilities department. "The extra work on the repairs will be worth the additional time it takes."
San Diego is undergoing an assessment of all its dams at its eight reservoirs to find a long-term strategy for their rehabilitation or replacement.
The city-owned Hodges Reservoir impounds water for drinking water purposes. It was created with the building of Hodges Dam on San Dieguito Creek in 1918 and serves the San Diego County Water Authority, San Dieguito Water District and Santa Fe Irrigation District as well as the city of San Diego.