San Diego sets record for fixing underground pipes

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California Construction News staff writer

San Diego’s mayor says 2022 is a record-breaking year for in-house pipe replacements.

“We need major infrastructure upgrades across San Diego because past administrations failed to properly invest in our neighborhoods, from street repair to underground pipes,” Mayor Todd Gloria said in a statement.

“By adding more pipe-repair crews, we’re making a down payment on our future by replacing those aging pipes now before they burst and require costly emergency fixes down the road. I want to applaud the hard work of our stormwater crews who are out there every day getting the job done for the people we proudly serve.”

Mayor Gloria invited nearby residents and the Stormwater Department employees who worked on the project to join him in writing their signatures on the final piece of pipe before crews installed it to complete the three-month pipeline replacement project in a residential neighborhood south of Silver Wing Recreation Center – setting a record with 3,960 linear feet of pipe replacement in a fiscal year – four times as much as City crews repaired in 2020.

Mayor Gloria expanded the stormwater department’s pipe-repair efforts by adding a second in-house pipeline replacement crew in January 2022 – doubling the number of workers available for repairs and replacement.

The Otay Mesa project is one of 1,800 known stormwater pipe failures citywide that, if not prioritized for repair, would likely negatively affect the surrounding neighborhood with sinkholes, road closures and safety impacts. City crews began work April 1 to remove 1,400 feet of damaged corrugated metal pipe that was first installed in the late 1960s and beyond its useful life. It was replaced with larger, reinforced concrete pipes that are expected to serve the neighborhood for the next century.

“When it rains, stormwater flows from roofs, sidewalks and other urban surfaces onto city streets, picking up pollution and trash along the way and ultimately flowing untreated into our oceans and bays. Investing in our stormwater infrastructure must be a top priority to keep our ocean healthy and clean and maintain the natural beauty that makes San Diego the place that we call home,” said council member von Wilpert.

To help tackle its $1.4 billion infrastructure backlog, the city has secured $54 million from the state for key projects in South Mission Beach and the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Also, city council recently approved a low-interest federal loan that paves the way for an investment of up to $733 million in stormwater projects – from pipeline replacements to pump station repairs – during the next five years.

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