GrokSurf's San Diego

Local observations on water, environment, technology, law & politics

Storm runoff damages Lake Murray service road

Posted by George J Janczyn on January 24, 2010

Storm runoff in a concrete channel overflowed and eroded the footing for the service road circling Lake Murray reservoir near the San Carlos Bay portion of the lake. The channel funnels runoff into two large pipes going under the road and apparently excess runoff that the pipes couldn’t handle flowed over the top and undermined the soil beneath the road. Possibly the pipes were leaking as well. Crews put up barriers and it appears they have already done some excavation, probably to determine the extent of damage before repairs begin.

Arian Collins, Supervising Public Information Officer for the Public Utilities Department responded to my questions with this statement: “There was some damage to the roadway due to the recent rain storms, and the road has been closed to through traffic. Staff will be inspecting the area this week to determine the amount of damage and scheduling repair. At this time, it may take up to a month before the roadway is repaired. Since this is City property, any repairs will be paid for by the City.”

Click pics for enlargement:

Point at which runoff from channel normally enters the pipes but was blocked and ran over the top (I'm standing on the right side of the road shown in the next photo)

Crews dug a roadcut to expose corroded pipes

The lake level is quite high but the ducks don't seem to mind


Update Jan 29: crews are working to build a temporary road bypass to allow through traffic until the repair project can be designed, funded, and approved. The crew supervisor told me that the two old deteriorated 48″ pipes under the road had plugged up during the storm, causing the heavy flow coming down the channel to spill over the road. He said the replacement pipes will probably be 60″ each. He also said since the damage is on Water Department property, expenses will be paid from water department funds, not from city taxpayer accounts.


Update Feb 8: the temporary repair is in place. Work on the permanent repair is expected to begin sometime in May. City Councilmember Marti Emerald wasted no time using this event for political advantage. On Feb. 3, she issued a press release headlined “Councilmember Marti Emerald Gets Fix For Lake Murray Sinkhole” ( Quite disingenuous, because the Water Department had already begun temporary repairs and planning for the permanent repair and provided Ms. Emerald’s office with information about it when she made her request. The press release also calls it a pedestrian path, but it is actually a service road belonging to the Water Department which the public is presently permitted to use.


3 Responses to “Storm runoff damages Lake Murray service road”

  1. For all the rain we got I’m surprised there wasn’t more damage–Maybe it just seemed like a lot of rain just because we’ve had so many years without it? I haven’t been hearing anyone declare that the drought is over. Still it’s good to see water levels rising in the reservoir.

  2. GrokSurf said

    Jim, actually almost all the water in Lake Murray is imported (piped in from San Vicente and/or El Capitan reservoirs). Its capacity is 4818 acre feet but local runoff into the reservoir only averages 100 AF per year. It was already nearly full before the rains because of the San Vicente Dam raising project which required lowering that reservoir’s water level. Some of that water was piped into Murray. Now take a reservoir like Sutherland, which fills solely from watershed runoff and is desperately low at 16.2% of capacity — check this photo from last summer. Morena reservoir also receives no supplemental water and is at 12.1% of capacity. We’ll need a lot more storms like our last series to make a significant dent in those reservoirs’ deficit.

  3. GrokSurf said

    Regarding my Feb. 8 update, I received this reply from Geni Cavitt, the director of communications for Marti Emerald’s office. My response follows.

    “Councilmember Marti Emerald’s office has been working on this issue since Jan. 25th. After several calls from constituents regarding the sinkhole at Lake Murray’s San Carlos Bay, council staff contacted Lakes Supervisor Nelson Manville, at which time Councilmember Emerald requested a temporary path be constructed and barricades removed to restore access to the many people who use the path/service road for recreation. Councilmember Emerald further requested a fast track for the permanent repair.

    The following morning, Jan. 26th, Supervisor Manville responded that he would provide further information for both a temporary repair and a permanent solution. Councilmember Emerald met with Manville on Jan. 28th to see the damage first-hand and discuss implementation of those repairs.

    The news release was sent on Feb. 3rd because that’s when we had a chance to go out and take photographs of the work done so far.

    I hope this information is helpful to your understanding of the Councilmember’s actions.”

    My response: I didn’t report that Ms. Emerald did not make a request, nor complain about the timing of her news release. I stated that the Water Department had begun the repair process before Marti Emerald made her request and that it’s not correct for her press release to say that she ‘got the fix’ for her constituents.

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