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Reservoir Replacement: 3.1 million-gallon tank to supplant 720,000-gallon tank in La Jolla Natural Park

Plans to demolish and replace the La Jolla View Reservoir, found in La Jolla Natural Park, are moving forward, with an expected start date of October 2016. La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJPB) advisory group heard an updated presentation on the project during its Feb. 23 meeting. Leading up to the start of construction, an open house to review the project details is planned for August and a LJPB subcommittee is forming to keep track of changes and updates.

The existing 720,000-gallon above ground La Jolla View Reservoir was built in 1949. “So it’s outdated and needs to be upgraded,” said project manager Parita Amerlahn. “The proposal is to build a new 3.1 million gallon reservoir at a higher elevation in the park.”

The reservoir at La Jolla Natural Park is 66 years old this year.
The reservoir at La Jolla Natural Park is 66 years old this year.

A second reservoir at Exchange Place will also be demolished, but not replaced.

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The site of the existing La Jolla View Reservoir will be re-landscaped with native vegetation, and an existing communications tower nearby (unrelated to the reservoir) will remain. La Jolla Natural Park is found east of the La Jolla Country Club, and though there are walking paths through the park, public access is prohibited.

The new reservoir will be completely underground with the exception of two manways (passageways to the underground facility) and two paved parking spaces for maintenance vehicles.

“We looked at what portion of the park is going to be taken away and what will be restored. When all is said and done, the park is going to gain a third of an acre,” Amerlahn said. To ensure native vegetation takes root, up to five years of monitoring will follow.

The La Jolla View Reservoir is part of the city system of reservoirs that includes Muirlands Pump Station, La Jolla Country Club Reservoir, Soledad Reservoir and Muirlands Pipeline, which all connect to residential areas. The water is pumped from parts of La Jolla and from the Miramar Water Treatment Plant.

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Resident Ed Comartin, who said he has attended other community presentations on the project, spoke at the meeting to “get some hearts going.” He expressed concern over construction and post-construction proceedings. “That reservoir is 60 feet deep, so the dirt they’re going to remove is going to constitute an estimated 500 trucks going up and down Exchange Place to haul it out over two years time,” he said.

Noting that the room at the La Jolla Rec Center where the LJPB meeting is held was 12 feet tall, he added, “We are talking five times deeper than this room. Think of how deep that is as far as trenching goes.”

Additionally, Comartin said the land on which the Exchange Place Reservoir sits is not dedicated parkland, but land owned by San Diego’s Public Utilities Department. He suggested that once the old reservoir is demolished, the land be converted into a park. In support of the idea, LJPB board member

Melinda Merryweather said, “We are under- parked in La Jolla because the city counts acreage under water as parkland ... so I think it would be great.”

Amerlahn said Public Utilities has considered selling the property, “but haven’t told me one way or the other.”

To stay on top of project changes and show support for the area becoming a park, LJPB chair Dan Allen said a subcommittee would form. Members of the public who wish to be on the committee may attend the next meeting.

In other La Jolla Parks & Beaches news

MPA signage: Wildcoast’s Zach Plopper offered an update on the Marine Protected Area (MPA) informational signs planned for areas such as La Jolla Cove. The signs would be three-by-two-feet in size, and provide updated regulations for the Matlahuayl Marine Reserve found in the ocean near the Cove. There are four MPAs in La Jolla and the signs explain the various regulations that pertain to each. Plopper said the current signs at the Cove are outdated.

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Funded by the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the sign production and installation will proceed as soon as the verbiage is approved by the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

The La Jolla Cove MPA is a “no-take reserve,” a restriction LJPB member Jane Reldan said she felt was not made clear on the proposed signage. “The sign says kayaking is a way to enjoy the MPA ... and that sea lions play with divers and snorkelers who come to experience the area,” she read, adding she was worried that language would encourage unsafe contact with marine wildlife.

Plopper said he would consider feedback and return to LJPB with a final version.

Next meeting: 4 p.m. Monday, March 23 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St., the LJPB will discuss priorities for San Diego operating budget 2016, and continue its discussion on legal and city-approved ways to clean Children’s Pool when the seal pupping season ends in May. Board updates at lajollaparksandbeaches.org