City seeks permit to clear storm channels
The city is seeking a master permit from various regulatory agencies to begin clearing storm channels throughout San Diego in an effort to prevent flooding, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced Tuesday.
“Once we obtain the master permit, we will be able to begin work almost immediately on clearing channels that cause the biggest problems,” Sanders said at a news conference near Alvarado Creek.
“We can all look forward to the day when we have final approvals and can begin the work for protecting the city from flooding,” he said.
He was joined by an official from San Diego State University and representatives from nearby businesses that were impacted when the Alvarado Creek flooded during the winter rains in January.
Last week, the San Diego Planning Commission approved the Stormwater Department’s master plan to clear vegetation and debris from certain areas along 50 miles of flood control channels in the city.
According to Bill Harris, a spokesman for the Stormwater Department, the city should have the master permit by August, pending appeal, and work could begin by mid-September.
Initially, Harris said, the city will look to clear about three miles of stormwater channels in areas most impacted by flooding, such as the Tijuana River Valley, Sorrento Valley, Murphy Creek and Alvarado Creek.
The environmental group San Diego Coastkeeper released a statement opposing the plan over water-quality concerns from polluted water reaching the ocean.
“We believe that flood control and water quality protection are not mutually exclusive; we reject the master maintenance program as too expensive, vague and ineffective,” said Gabriel Solmer, Coastkeeper’s legal director.
“We look forward to working with the City Council to craft solutions that will protect downstream residents, save the city money, treat stormwater as the resource it is, and provide meaningful public participation to help the Stormwater Department meet its goals,” he said.
Harris said stormwater channels will only be cleared in areas prone to flooding.
“Some channels may not get touched at all simply because they don’t affect anything,” Harris said.
The project will be funded through the city’s stormwater department, but Harris said the exact cost isn’t yet known.