Draining begins at Lake Morena

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SAN DIEGO –The city of San Diego is draining a popular East County lake so residents can use the  water over the strong objections of the supervisor who represents the area.

“Even more scarce than dollars is water,” said interim Mayor Todd Gloria, talking about his decision to drain down Lake Morena. “That’s why you have this dispute.”

“To drain this lake for a one time financial resource is poor budget planning,” said county Supervisor Dianne Jacobs. “Tens of thousands use the park for camping, boating and fishing. It brings in revenue of a little less than $400 thousand a year to the county.”

Misha Lake[1] copyGloria believes if the money is not used for household water it will cost the city $5 million dollars.

“I’m acting for ratepayers. We cannot afford not to draw down this water that the city of San Diego owns.”

The City Council already voted this year to increase water rates by nearly 15 percent over two years.

Mayor Gloria admits there will be a negative impact on the lake and its uses, but he says its necessary to avoid another rate hike.

“San Diegans need to run their facets, flush their toilets, bath and that’s what this water is going to be used for and in my world that takes priority over recreational uses,” Gloria said.

The county  disagrees, saying the move is shortsighted because the water also serves as a critical firefighting resource especially during wild fire season.

As a compromise, the city delayed the draining process until December, which is traditionally the tail end of the Santa Ana winds season.

“Every ounce counts,” said Gloria. “This is locally sourced water. To not take this local source of water means we would have to get it from outside of the city, which is even more expensive.”

“I think it very unfortunate for the city and shortsighted by the city,” said Supervisor Jacobs. “They look at this only from a financial standpoint.”

The water will be transferred in several installments to Lower Otay Lake. In the process, the water level at Lake Morena will fall 23 vertical feet.


  • Charlene

    Look up Charles Hatfield, he is the rainmaker from 1916 who made Lake Morena possible . He was hired by San Diego for 10k to make it rain. It's sad in my opinion ,I'm sure a lot of fish and wildlife will be affected. My question is why is SD free trash service cut before we depleat natural resources

  • Laura

    When I lived in the city limits a few years ago my water bill was printed on expensive paper with full color, have you looked into cutting back on expenses in other places before you go destroy an Eco-system? And of you're so concerned about the high costs of water, why did you approve a 15% rate increase?

  • Mara Nasland

    In 1989 the lake was drained down to 30'. It destroyed the local economy and the wildlife habitat, which drove off or killed the wildlife there. There are other ways to find the money. And if the price goes up, people will start to conserve (as much as I don't want to pay more for water). Is it too late to stop the draining to 23'?

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