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Public Policy Newsletter Article

San Diego City Council Passes Waterways Maintenance Plan

  • 2020-06-18T15:00:00.000+0000
  • San Diego
  • Author: Melanie Cohn

The City of San Diego is responsible for a storm drain system that conveys runoff from local neighborhoods to the Pacific Ocean. Portions of the storm drain system require periodic maintenance to remove accumulated sediment, vegetation, and trash that impedes water flow and increases flood risks. The City’s former Master Storm Water System Maintenance Program (MSWSMP) described the process for planning and performing maintenance activities. That program expired in 2018.

The City has developed a new Municipal Waterways Maintenance Plan that will guide maintenance of the storm drain system following the expiration of the MSWSMP. This plan has been adapted to more efficiently provide public safety through a pro-active and responsive maintenance schedule that minimizes and mitigates effects on the environment; and streamlines subsequent authorizations.

On June 9th, the San Diego City Council unanimously gave final approval to the Waterways Maintenance Plan. Biocom supported passage of the program via written comments in accordance with COVID-19 meeting procedures. In her comments, Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry pointed out the importance of the program to biotech companies in Sorrento Valley.

Persistent flooding along Roselle Street in Sorrento Valley has occurred over at least the last ten years, jeopardizing the facilities of Biocom members there, causing impacts to employee safety and sensitive research and manufacturing processes. Flooding damage continues to occur despite millions of dollars invested in flood protection systems by businesses.

Biocom and other stakeholders have been working with city staff to pursue short- and long-term solutions to flooding and water quality issues stemming from the Sorrento Valley storm channels.

Regular maintenance and improvements to the channel system are critical to reducing flooding risk. We appreciate the city’s efforts to develop this comprehensive program that will hopefully reduce the impacts of storm events on flood-prone areas such as Roselle Street.

We are particularly grateful that the Waterways Maintenance Plan includes advance approval of permits necessary to perform maintenance work, treby hopefully shortening delays caused by permit lapses, sensitive species requirements, and other obstacles to this much-needed maintenance.