North Park water
A water main break near Morley Field in July. Photo via OnScene.TV

San Diego is experiencing considerably fewer breaks in water mains and sewer lines thanks to continuing replacement of deteriorating cast iron pipes, according to a year-end report released Wednesday.

A total of 38 water main breaks were reported in the city in 2019, a 38% reduction from the previous year. It was the lowest total in 15 years and far less than the peak of 131 breaks in 2010.

Sewer spills dropped significantly to 38 incidents in 2019, compared to 50 a year earlier and an all-time high of 365 spills in 2000.

“We’ve focused on replacing our old cast iron water mains and sewer lines to improve neighborhood infrastructure and better protect our environment,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “This has led to a significant decline in the frequency of spills and flooding, and that’s good news for our neighborhoods.”

Since 2013, the city has replaced 220 miles of water mains across the city. The remaining 60 miles of cast iron mains are due to be replaced over the next few years with the goal of eliminating all cast iron by 2024.

Between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2019, a total of 174.9 miles of sewer mains were replaced or relined. An additional 200 miles are scheduled to be replaced or relined over the next five years.

New water and sewer mains are made of polyvinyl chloride, a material expected to last much longer than pipe materials used in the past.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.