North Park water
Residents wait outdoors following a water main break nearly Morley Field in 2019. Photo courtesy OnScene.TV

For the fourth year in a row, the number of water main breaks has decreased in the city of San Diego, officials reported Wednesday.

There were 33 water main breaks in 2020, the lowest total in more than 15 years and far fewer than the peak of 131 breaks in 2010. 

The city credited the continued downward trend to increased maintenance efforts and a multi-year program to replace old cast-iron pipes. 

“The city’s Public Utilities Department has worked very hard to improve the reliability of our water system infrastructure,” said Shauna Lorance, director of public utilities. “Our citizens benefit greatly from fewer main breaks because it means less water loss and lower emergency repair costs.” 

The city is continuing to replace the old cast-iron mains that are responsible for most breaks. Some of these pipes have been in service for more than a century.

Since 2013, the city has replaced approximately 180 miles of old pipes. The remaining 55 miles of cast-iron mains are scheduled to be replaced by 2025 with new pipes made of polyvinyl chloride.  

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