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More problems discovered with Lake Hodges Dam, delaying lake's reopening and ballooning repair cost

Lake Hodges dam.png
Posted at 5:35 PM, Sep 21, 2022

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — More problems have been discovered at the troubled Lake Hodges Dam, which will delay the lake's reopening for boating and fishing indefinitely and increase the price tag for repairs.

“It is going to take us a few extra months to get this done and so we are working on that," Lisa Celaya of the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department told ABC 10News.

The lake has been closed since May because lowering the water levels to allow crews to do the repairs exposed more of the shoreline, making it dangerous for recreation. As crews examined the newly exposed portions of the dam, they found additional defects. “It can be crumbling of the concrete, it can be exposed rebar, it can be corrosion of rebar, it can be holes, whatever size that is. It can be all of that," Celaya said.

The estimated price of the repair project had been estimated around $6 million, but had increased to $9 million. The new issues push that number to $10 million. The delay will also cause problems. Repairs had been targeted to finish in October, before San Diego's rainy season. Now the estimate is early spring of 2023, which means the City likely will not be able to use winter rains to help refill Lake Hodges to its usual level. The business that handles boat rentals at Lake Hodges says it is worried the start of 2023 boating season will be delayed, or perhaps canceled altogether.

"We live in San Diego. We have a lot of resources. We do have all of our other dams and reservoirs open for recreation. But also, be patient with us a little bit. We are trying to address this and we understand the impact," said Celaya.

Built in 1918, the Lake Hodges Dam will need to be replaced in the not-too-distant future, and is the top priority among the City's dams, according to Celaya. The City is already discussing possible state and federal grants to help pay for the larger project. In the meantime, Celaya says the repairs are necessary to keep the dam safe, as the reservoir provides crucial water to several local water districts.