GrokSurf's San Diego

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

SDG&E quietly removes disputed Sunrise Powerlink “water filling station” in the San Carlos area of San Diego

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 17, 2011

Last spring we learned via John Pilch (President, San Carlos Area Council–SCAC) that SDG&E was filling water tanker trucks from street fire hydrants for use as construction water for the Sunrise Powerlink Project, and more recently, that they had expanded the operation with construction of a “water filling station” behind a San Carlos shopping center (click here for the filling station story) to fill even more tanker trucks.

Mr. Pilch raised questions about the use of large quantities of potable water instead of recycled water for construction purposes; street damage and neighborhood traffic from 50,000-pound trucks; whether legal permits existed for the water filling station; and more.

SDG&E officials, city council representatives, the mayor’s office, and other city officials were repeatedly contacted by Mr. Pilch. In addition there was a story by the Union-Tribune and a followup on this blog. Still, to this day, there was either no response from officials or simple stonewalling.

Now it would appear Mr. Pilch’s perseverence is starting to pay off. He reports that Saturday afternoon the “truck-filling water depot” was removed. He describes that development in an email sent today to SCAC members:

After learning from Captain Ahearn of Eastern Division that Neighborhood Code Compliance (NCC) would not discuss their “investigation” with anyone other than the complainant, I did my own investigation and then filed a complaint with NCC. This began with a call to the Planning Dept., where I learned the entire property was zoned Commercial CC-1-3. I then reviewed the Muni Code section that deals with this zone and found that Trucking and Transportation Terminals are not permitted at all in this zone. I then checked with the Development Services Department and learned that no permits have been issued for the 8700 Block of Navajo Rd. Thus, a Complaint in my name was filed on October 7, 2011, with a request for a Cease and Desist Order, based on the Municipal Code.

A call was then placed to the Property Management company and I was referred to the Soltis company in Los Angeles. Several calls were exchanged and I finally reached Elizabeth Griggs, the person in charge of the San Carlos Village property. She told me they were told by someone (didn’t know who) that no permit was needed. I corrected that idea and told her that I was following up with NCC to have this shut down. Ms. Griggs indicated that only six trucks made a daily trip from this site. I corrected that and advised her that at least six trucks came and went all day, polluting the air and creating a noisy environment within 100 feet of residences. She was not happy nor pleasant and our conversation ended.

The bottom line is an investment of about 30-60 minutes was all it took for me to gather the needed information, file the NCC Complaint, make a few phone calls and get this illegal operation shut down. I’ve heard nothing from NCC or Marti Emerald’s office about their investigation or my complaint. Please note that NCC has had the case “under investigation” since September 7, 2011, with no notice that a decision had been made.

We now move back to our original problem of water trucks on the Lake Murray West Frontage Road. The City and SDG&E has advised that they will have the roadways repaired. However, that won’t stop the trucks from continuing to use Jackson Drive as their route to Navajo and then to SR-125. Neither seem to be interested in the environmental issues, with increased air pollution from the diesel exhaust and increased truck traffic through San Carlos, now that the site behind Ralph’s is closed. These same trucks have damaged the roadway on Jackson Drive, where they stop at the Stop signs at Twin Lake Dr. This is the intersection where children cross Jackson Dr. to get to and from Benchley-Weinberger School. All the City and SDG&E have to do is re-route the trucks back onto Lake Murray Blvd. by making a left turn off the West Frontage Road at Jackson Dr. Please note that the truck traffic, emissions and roadway damage were not included in the Environmental Impact Report for the SDG&E Southwest Powerlink. Thus, we’ll continue to work on this. If you’re not happy with the trucks in San Carlos, please consider sending an e-mail to Councilmember Marti Emerald at and to Todd Vorhees at SDG&E at

Discontinuation of the “filling station” operation raises the question, of course, whether additional water tanker truck traffic will now be going to the street fire hydrants and whether additional hydrants will be involved.

[Nov 3: the answers to the above questions are “yes” and “yes”]

2 Responses to “SDG&E quietly removes disputed Sunrise Powerlink “water filling station” in the San Carlos area of San Diego”

  1. Guy K said

    I live on Lake Ashwood Ave which is about 3 blocks east from Jackson and 1 block north of Lake Murray. The trucks are running continuously in the morning and other times and have been for months. They fill up along the north side of Lake Murray about 3- 5 blocks east of Lake Adlon Ave. I finally asked one of them what the water was for, and the boss said, “SDG&E.” The trucks are a nuisance, and I feel sorry for the houses they stop in front of especially since they remain idling half the time at 6 in the morning. Is this legal??

  2. Wow. So if Pilch did not persevere, the local government would not have done a thing and just let the whole thing go? I’m with Guy K feeling sorry for the residents directly affected by this.

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