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City of San Diego receives $35M to upgrade storm drain infrastructure

Storm drain sits mostly clogged in an Encanto backyard.
Posted at 4:14 PM, Jun 12, 2024

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Todd Gloria Wednesday met with officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State Water Resources Control Board in Mission Beach to announce $37 million in funding to upgrade the city's aging stormwater system.

As part of President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the city will receive a $32 million low-interest loan and $5 million grant, intended to reduce neighborhood flood risk and bolster the region's defenses for increasingly intense rain events.

The $32 million State Revolving Fund loan has a 1.7% interest rate.

"Upgrading our aging stormwater system is vital to protect our neighborhoods and environment from the increasing threat posed by climate change and severe weather," Gloria said. "This $37 million investment from the Biden Administration's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help address longstanding flooding issues to protect homes, businesses, and our natural resources, ensuring a safer San Diego for all of us."

A project specifically earmarked includes upgrading storm drain infrastructure in South Mission Beach dating to the 1940s that officials say is too small, resulting in regular flooding.

According to the city, the funding is in conjunction with the $733 million investment commitment received in September 2022 for San Diego stormwater upgrades through the EPA's Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act -- a federal credit program designed to promote improved water infrastructure.

"Improving stormwater infrastructure protects homes, businesses and our environment," EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott said. "President Biden promised to strengthen communities across the country by investing in water infrastructure. He delivered on that promise with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and now $37 million is coming to San Diego to reduce the risk of flooding in South Mission Beach."

The funding comes several months after intense storms and inadequately maintained stormwater infrastructure compounded to cause flooding in multiple areas of San Diego, especially in the Southeast part of the city. More than $235 million in projects are in the works to bolster flood resilience and water quality improvements in the Chollas Creek watershed.

"San Diegans know all too well from recent flooding that the city's aging stormwater infrastructure is no match for severe weather events," said Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego. "Thanks to President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are upgrading this infrastructure to protect residents and businesses from flooding and our beaches from contamination."

However, despite these major investments, San Diego still faces $1.6 billion in unfunded stormwater infrastructure upgrades citywide that are needed to reduce flood risk and prevent pollution, a statement from Gloria's office read.

Construction is expected to begin in Mission Bay in spring 2025.

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