Council OKs flood control clean-up plan

City News Service

The San Diego City Council on Monday unanimously approved a comprehensive, long-term plan to maintain 32 miles of frequently clogged flood control channels.

The plan overcame opposition from environmentalists, who appealed last year’s approval of the program by the city’s Planning Commission.

“We’ve got to get serious to protect life and property’’ from constant flooding, Councilwoman Marti Emerald said.

Several property owners and business representatives — mainly from flood-prone Grantville and Sorrento Valley — told council members they were getting tired of almost annual overflows of water from the San Diego River, creeks and flood channels during storms.

Many of the channels, including ones that are lined with concrete, have huge buildups of sediment with vegetation growing on top, according to city Stormwater Department officials. They said the clogs collect trash and are home to a number of non-native plant species.

Those officials will next seek permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, Regional Water Quality Control Board and state Department of Fish and Game, with an eye toward beginning actual dredging work next fall.

The plan calls for cleaning up three to seven channels per year, with 113 projects listed in the plan.

Opponents contend clearing sediment and vegetation won’t solve the flooding problem, which is one of overall capacity of the storm channels, and will worsen the quality of water flowing into coastal waters.

The Stormwater Department’s Chris McFadden said plans are in place to monitor water quality.

The City Council’s Natural Resources and Culture Committee will receive annual updates on progress of the program.