Mayor Todd Gloria at signing ceremony
Mayor Todd Gloria at the loan signing ceremony. Image from city video

Mayor Todd Gloria has signed for the first installment of a $733 million federal loan to fund repairs to San Diego’s aging storm drainage system and protect coastal wetlands.

Gloria was joined by official from the Environmental Protection Agency at a signing ceremony Tuesday at Torrey Pines State Reserve overlooking the Los Peñasquitos Watershed, which will be protected by the stormwater project.

“Our storm drain system is largely underground and out of sight, but the implications of this aging infrastructure failing are massive — from serious flooding in our neighborhoods to pollution of our bays and the ocean,” said Gloria. 

“While replacing storm drains and upgrading pump stations doesn’t capture the public’s attention like fixing potholes, these major investments in critical infrastructure are incredibly important to our neighborhoods and quality of life,” he said.

The City Council unanimously approved the plan in April, allowing the city to use the EPA’s special loan program for water infrastructure projects to cover 49% of the cost. The city will cover the other half through loans, grants and other financing methods.

Gloria’s signature on Tuesday ​secured the initial installment of $225 million. The complete project includes:

  • $552 million to replace aging metal pipes with reinforced concrete pipes that last for 100 years 
  • $91 million for revitalization and restoration of watersheds to improve water quality 
  • $36 million for green infrastructure projects to remove pollution and support greening of urbanized communities  
  • $30 million to upgrade pump stations that are critical to preventing neighborhood flooding 
  • $24 million for the rehabilitation and replacement of deteriorating stormwater infrastructure  

Bruno Pigott, deputy assistant administrator for water at the EPA, said the project will help San Diego “protect its communities from potential flooding and prevent runoff of untreated stormwater into local waterways.”

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