SAN DIEGO — San Diego’s aging storm water infrastructure — particularly the pipes – are in a desperate state of disrepair. 

Todd Snyder with the city’s Stormwater Department said, ”When we do an assessment of our system we found that corrugated metal — that’s metal pipe — that has been installed anywhere from 50 to 80 years ago, really a lot of the system has reached its useful lifetime.”

In fact, San Diego’s Stormwater Department has identified a thousand areas that are deteriorating to the point where they could fail during a significant rain storm.

As forecasters predict a wet El Nino winter, the city is trying to proactively repair the old pipes before they become an emergency.

“Just last rain season we had over 20 sinkholes,” Snyder pointed out.

In order to try and avoid more emergency work after the fact, the Stormwater Department is prioritizing work on pipes by age.    

Jake Valencia, a civil engineer for the Stormwater Department, described one corrugated metal pipe that they’ve identified as a priority for replacement. He said the pipe is about 55 to 60 feet.

The city has secured a roughly $700 million federal loan through the Environmental Protection Agency, but its not enough and really just a down payment to get started.

Synder said, “There’s over $2 billion in backlog where we have identified storm drain pipes that are in the active stages of failing.”

Revamping San Diego’s storm drains could take some time.