‘Unexpected water leaks’ from Hillside Drive construction create ‘waterfall’ in La Jolla

A water leak coming from nearby Hillside Drive construction created what a resident calls a "waterfall."
A water leak coming from nearby Hillside Drive construction created what a resident calls a “waterfall” near a Torrey Pines Road property.
(Eric Korevaar)

A steady stream flowed next to Eric Korevaar’s house on Torrey Pines Road for weeks in what he calls ‘an incredible waste of water.’


When La Jolla resident Eric Korevaar moved into his oceanfront home on Torrey Pines Road, he wasn’t expecting an additional water feature near his property. But for a few weeks recently, a broken water main created a steady creek next to his house, ending with what he calls a “waterfall” emptying into the ocean.

The city of San Diego says the problem has been fixed.

It all started May 25, when Korevaar noticed a higher-than-normal stream of clean water next to his house.

“I noticed the high water flow and thought it was weird because I would get high water flow for an hour at a time on occasion, like if someone was draining a pool or during a storm,” he said. “But it kept going, so three days later I wanted to see where it was coming from.”

Having seen the ongoing regrading of Hillside Drive a few blocks away, which involves relocation of some utilities, he checked there first.

Residents looking forward to the completion of a long-awaited project to regrade La Jolla’s Hillside Drive and reduce — if not stop — the frequency of large trucks getting stuck on the incline will have to wait a bit longer.

May 16, 2023

“I noticed a firehose-type pipe coming out from under the street and pouring into the storm drain, and the storm drain at the bottom of Hillside leads here,” Korevaar said, motioning to the creek near his home. “This is totally unusual for this time of year. It has been to this level or even higher during the rains, but never anything like this during the dry season.”

A creek next to La Jolla resident Eric Korevaar's house on Torrey Pines Road stemmed from a water leak at Hillside Drive.
A steady creek flowed next to La Jolla resident Eric Korevaar’s house on Torrey Pines Road after a water leak at nearby Hillside Drive.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Korevaar, a scientist by training, wanted to get a better understanding of the amount of water being released. “I have a 5-gallon bucket and took it down to the bottom of the waterfall and stuck it under the flow of water and counted how long it took to fill,” he said. “It took 30 seconds to fill the bucket, and since I was only under about a sixth of the flow, I estimated it was running at a gallon a second.”

The stream caused “a little bit of erosion,” he said, but his bigger concern was the wasted water.

“For years we have been told to be careful and conserve water,” Korevaar said. “People were being reported for watering their lawns on the wrong day … and this is an incredible waste of water.”

He estimated the value of the water being released at “one or two thousand dollars a day,” based on the rate he pays for water.

City spokesman Tyler Becker said the leak was related to the Hillside Drive regrading project.

“As part of the relocation of the utilities ... the contractor had to lower the 10-inch water main at the Hillside Drive and Torrey Pines Road intersection to install a new storm drain pipe,” Becker said. “Since then, there were a few unexpected water leaks from the new joints. The new fittings broke down due to accumulated air pressure in the new pipe.”

Korevaar said he called a city hotline that takes reports of water main breaks and that an investigator was dispatched immediately.

A few days later, he said, city trucks were onsite and he believed the problem was fixed. But over the next several days, the water level lowered and then rose again. “I thought it was fixed, and if it was, then it was broken again,” he said.

On June 14, the stream again slowed, showing new signs that the issue had been worked out, Korevaar said.

Becker confirmed that, saying “the contractor resolved the issue ... and there should not be any further leaks.”

The Hillside Drive project will flatten the approach to Torrey Pines Road to alleviate the problem of large vehicles getting stuck in the dip. It also will install the storm drain system, replace concrete street panels and resurface the intersection at Hillside Drive and Amalfi Street.

The project closed Hillside Drive at Torrey Pines Road in April, and traffic from Torrey Pines to Hillside was diverted one block west onto Amalfi Street.

The work, which is being done mostly at night, is expected to be completed in the fall, with the hope that Hillside will reopen to cars soon.

“There are many pieces to each project,” Becker said. “We anticipate that construction related to Hillside Drive will be completed and the road will reopen in July. Other items relating to the project are expected to continue beyond July.” ◆