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Escondido preps emergency fix on San Elijo Lagoon outfall

Hope Cardiff and Solana Beach don't mind wastewater leak

Escondido officials are scrambling to avert a catastrophic failure of a section of the city’s 14-mile land outfall pipeline near the San Elijo Lagoon, a protected marine reserve.

The city was alerted on April 16 that water was seeping up at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center near the outfall, which traverses the Escondido Creek carrying treated wastewater from Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility to the ocean.

The leak is confined to an area near the Nature Center at the northern border of the lagoon.


Currently, the leak is confined to an area near the Nature Center at the northern border of the San Elijo Lagoon, west of Interstate 5 and south of Manchester Road. Officials say the water has not gone into the lagoon, and isn't expected to, but due to pressure on this portion of the pipe, things could "escalate into a catastrophic failure if not addressed quickly."

Water samples taken to determine the source of the seepage matched that of the treated effluent from Escondido's Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Center, indicating a leak at the land outfall, which was built by the city in 1974. 

Trestle bridge near Solana Beach end of lagoon
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The pipe near the leak is around 16 feet deep and 25 feet off the roadway in sensitive habitat, making access too difficult for city staff and equipment, a report says.

According to the report, additional information received on April 19 heightened the concerns. "The director believes this emergency repair is necessary to avoid danger to life or damage to property and permit the continued safe operation of the land outfall."

To speed up containment and repair, the city has proclaimed a local emergency, which can be used to forego competitive bidding under state and local law. Any delay, the city said, will substantially slow the leak's containment.

The city manager is now executing a Public Improvement Agreement with CCL Contracting, Inc., with an urgent timeline. On Tuesday (April 30), the city council is expected to pass an emergency resolution and approve a budget adjustment of $1,700,000 for the repairs. 

The Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Center will remain in operation while the work is being done.


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Escondido officials are scrambling to avert a catastrophic failure of a section of the city’s 14-mile land outfall pipeline near the San Elijo Lagoon, a protected marine reserve.

The city was alerted on April 16 that water was seeping up at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center near the outfall, which traverses the Escondido Creek carrying treated wastewater from Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility to the ocean.

The leak is confined to an area near the Nature Center at the northern border of the lagoon.


Currently, the leak is confined to an area near the Nature Center at the northern border of the San Elijo Lagoon, west of Interstate 5 and south of Manchester Road. Officials say the water has not gone into the lagoon, and isn't expected to, but due to pressure on this portion of the pipe, things could "escalate into a catastrophic failure if not addressed quickly."

Water samples taken to determine the source of the seepage matched that of the treated effluent from Escondido's Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Center, indicating a leak at the land outfall, which was built by the city in 1974. 

Trestle bridge near Solana Beach end of lagoon
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The pipe near the leak is around 16 feet deep and 25 feet off the roadway in sensitive habitat, making access too difficult for city staff and equipment, a report says.

According to the report, additional information received on April 19 heightened the concerns. "The director believes this emergency repair is necessary to avoid danger to life or damage to property and permit the continued safe operation of the land outfall."

To speed up containment and repair, the city has proclaimed a local emergency, which can be used to forego competitive bidding under state and local law. Any delay, the city said, will substantially slow the leak's containment.

The city manager is now executing a Public Improvement Agreement with CCL Contracting, Inc., with an urgent timeline. On Tuesday (April 30), the city council is expected to pass an emergency resolution and approve a budget adjustment of $1,700,000 for the repairs. 

The Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Center will remain in operation while the work is being done.


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