Saturday, June 22, 2024

As Coronado Fights to Improve Stormwater Drainage, Monday’s Rain Fights Back

The city is currently upgrading the Parker Pump Station, but excessive rainfall caused damage.

Parker Pump Station new
The new Parker Pump Station will prevent both flooding of homes and ocean pollution.

Heavy rains brought flooding to Coronado on Monday, damaging residences, businesses, and city properties – including the Parker Pump Station.

The city is working to repair damages to the station’s electrical system, which will need to be replaced before the pump station can function at full capacity again, City Councilmember Mike Donovan said.

“We will get some of the needed parts (Jan. 25) and do a reassessment then,” Donovan said. Residents in the city’s Country Club area still have flushing capability, but must limit their use of other drains.

The pump station is responsible for collecting stormwater and sanitary sewer flows, and it is currently being rebuilt at a higher capacity to prevent both flooding in homes and ocean pollution.

When Monday’s rain hit, the stormwater system was overburdened and its sewer line burst, Donovan said.

“It flooded the whole pump station and filled the whole thing with sewage,” Donovan said. “And that station extends two stories underground.”

An update from the City of Coronado via Nixle at 1:11 pm on January 25:

Residents in the impacted Country Club area are advised to continue limiting all water use that drains into the sewer system, other than basic toilet and hand washing needs. The components for the repairs on the Parker Pump Station are en route for City crews to fully restore sewer service. Free showers are available at the Community Center, 1845 Strand Way, from 7 am to 7 pm.

The city shut the pump’s electrical system off in effort to prevent the system from shorting, and homes nearby lost sewer service for about 24 hours until the city was able to clear the station of flooding and restore sewer services at a limited capacity.

Donovan said the city is working to address infrastructure problems that cause flooding when heavy rain hits beyond just the Parker Pump Station project, although it is the largest of the city’s 20 pump stations.

“I know people are frustrated, and we’ll make it right,” Donovan said, adding, “We have a plan; we know where the hotspots are.”

Once completed, the the Parker Pump Station replacement project will be able to endure larger amounts of rain. Donovan said he believes Monday’s storm would not have overwhelmed the new system.

At last update, the station’s replacement was slated for completion in spring of 2025. The $26 million project broke ground in January 2023 and construction was originally projected to last a year.

However, concrete was poured at the jobsite on Jan. 19 and didn’t have sufficient time to cure, so it will likely need to be replaced, Donovan said.

Coronado operates separate storm drain and sanitary sewer systems. While sewer lines are routed to the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant for treatment, storm water lines simply channel water away from developed areas and into the ocean or bay to prevent flooding.

“(Stormwater) is a priority,” Donovan said. “But it’s also an issue of assigning priorities. We have a certain amount of money in our capital plan for infrastructure, which includes roads and includes curbs, sewage, and rainwater. We’ll have to look at that again, and maybe add some more money – but these things take time.”

And timing is difficult to nail down with something as unpredictable as weather, Donovan said. Not only did Monday’s storm bring excessive rainfall in a short period of time, but it also hit right at high tide.

“Our normal storm system pipes don’t get into the bay and into the ocean,” Donovan said, “but at high tide, those pipes are underwater, so they don’t drain.”

The Country Club area of the city in particular is prone to flooding due to its topography. It was once a waterway that was filled in during the early 1940s to make room for military runways, housing, and other needs. Its low topography means water does not gravitate toward the ocean, and instead must be pumped out.

Donovan said the damage incurred by Monday’s storm was disappointing. The city’s police station, City Hall and the John D. Spreckels Center are among city-owned buildings that incurred damage that now must be assessed. Businesses and residents also incurred damage. (File a report of damage here.)

Infrastructure is not the most exciting subject, so it doesn’t always get much public attention until a storm hits, Donovan said, but it is something he said he and the rest of the city council and staff are working to address.

But each infrastructure project takes time and money to complete. “So again, it’s a prioritization,” Donovan said. “And you don’t expect these kinds of storms to happen very often.”

But still, Donovan said, when they do happen, he would like to see the city’s infrastructure able to withstand the excess water. After the storm, he spent time on Orange Ave. to check in on business owners, many of whom were busy cleaning their floors and running fans.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Donovan said.

Megan Kitt
Megan Kitt
Megan has worked as a reporter for more than 10 years, and her work in both print and digital journalism has been published in more than 25 publications worldwide. She is also an award-winning photographer. She holds BA degrees in journalism, English literature and creative writing and an MA degree in creative writing and literature. She believes a quality news publication's purpose is to strengthen a community through informative and connective reporting.Megan is also a mother of three and a Navy spouse. After living around the world both as a journalist and as a military spouse, she immediately fell in love with San Diego and Coronado for her family's long-term home.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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