How safe are San Diego dams?

(Miramar) Could a mass evacuation like the one in Oroville happen here in San Diego? The city says no, that all the dams around our area are safe.

The Miramar Dam is a very popular recreation area. There are runners, bicyclists all out enjoying the lake and the view. What all these people are exercising on is actually an earthen dam.

“It’s very critical for our water supply here in the San Diego region,” says Halla Razak, Director of the San Diego Public Utility Department.

The dam creates a lake that holds our drinking water. It’s connected to a water treatment plant and it’s moved around using pipes underneath the dam and lake. To make sure everything works properly, the dam is inspected several times a year by city, state and federal workers.

“We walk the dams, we look at the inside and the outside of those,” says Razak, “We look at how the mechanics and different valves work, making sure everything is in working order.”

If the Miramar Dam or any other dam in San Diego fails there are evacuation plans. The spillway at Lake Miramar does go down towards a library and school. However, the city says anything catastrophic is unlikely, since the lake is made up of mostly imported water.

“We have 100% control of bringing the water or not bringing the water. So, the likelihood of spilling the water is close to zero and there are no concerns,” says Razak.

As for our water supply, with all the rain expected in California over the next few days, if the Oroville Reservoir does fail, we’ll be fine in San Diego.

“We have plenty of water here in San Diego that we believe, even if there is a stoppage of using that reservoirs for an extended period of time, we won’t see an impact on our water supply,” says Razak.

The Lower Otay Reservoir is the only one that’s close to being full. It’s currently at 91% and if it does spill over the city says it will be controlled and not a danger.

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