Reducing Flood Risk Through Channel Maintenance – Developing a Proactive and Responsive Maintenance Approach
The City of San Diego’s (City) Storm Water Division (Division) is responsible for performing maintenance and repair of the storm water conveyance system in an efficient, economic, environmentally and aesthetically acceptable manner for the protection of life and property. The Division has adopted a holistic and integrated management approach that seeks to maintain and improve the storm water conveyance system by having complementary plans that address flood risk reduction, stream restoration, water quality protection, and overall quality of life. In 2020 the City developed the Municipal Waterways Maintenance Plan (MWMP) to guide maintenance of regulated stormwater infrastructure and natural waterways, while minimizing and mitigating effects on the environment and streamlining regulatory authorizations. With the adoption of the MMWP, the City intends to more efficiently reduce flood risk through a proactive and responsive approach to maintenance.
Historically, maintenance of the storm water conveyance system occurred on an as-needed basis as a part of normal City operations without public review or regulatory permits. In September 2004, the County of San Diego (County), and all 18 cities within the County, received a letter titled “Directive Regarding Channel Maintenance Activities” from the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) San Diego Region that mandated the submittal of a required technical report pertaining to channel maintenance activities and practices. This new requirement presented challenges for the City to provide timely and consistent routine maintenance of flood control channels and associated storm water conveyance infrastructure.
The MWMP will replace the Master Storm Water System Maintenance Program (MMP) and was developed through a collaborative and iterative process involving City staff and multiple stakeholders, including nonprofit organizations, community groups, resource agencies, and the public at large. The presentation will focus on the engineering and regulatory challenges the City has faced in maintaining its regulated storm water infrastructure and how the MWMP was developed to provide a more proactive and responsive approach to reducing flood risk through maintenance.