City Gets Late Start on Stadium Flood Channel Clearing - NBC 7 San Diego

City Gets Late Start on Stadium Flood Channel Clearing

Thousands of parking spaces still affected by mud, runoff



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    The parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium flooded Tuesday. On Wednesday, the water made its way on to the field, causing a mess just one day before the Poinsettia Bowl is scheduled between San Diego State University and Navy.

    For all the attention paid to last week's flooding at Qualcomm Stadium, fixing the channel through nearby Murphy Canyon has dropped down the list of the city's stream-clearing priorities.

    Heavy equipment won't be working on-scene until Wednesday, just a day before the Holiday Bowl game.
    Thousands of parking spaces on the east side of the stadium remain covered with mud and trickling runoff as another rainy weather front approaches between now and kickoff.
    But given the city's resources, the loss of parking spaces takes a back seat to brush-clearing in Alvarado Canyon, Chollas Creek and Sorrento Valley, because the problems in those areas affect homes, businesses and traffic.
    "What we have in that creek segment," says city Stormwater Dept. spokesman Bill Harris, "is a lot of sedimentation that's been deposited over the years, a lot of vegetation that grows very quickly -- quicker than you could even imagine, actually.  And that clogs the channel such that when we got those extraordinary rains last week, the pressure on the berm that's holding that creek in was such that it gave way."
    Some of the sedimentation left over from last week's berm break has been scraped into mini-mountains of mud.
    Folks have been warning the city to clear out the clogged-up, concrete-lined flood channel for years, only to be told there were 'ecological concerns' that posed legal problems.
    "Politicians love new projects, but they hate to do new maintenance," said Tierrasanta resident Pete Burgert, before driving his motor scooter through the mud puddles in the parking lot Tuesday afternoon.  "There's nothing sexy about maintenance, and they always put it off whenever possible."
    Clearing the channel is one part of the equation; restoring the earthen berm alongside the stadium is the other.
    "That'll stop the water flow in the parking lot," Harris says, "and as soon as we can assess exactly what we've got there, we'll be doing everything we can to clean it up."
    But Harris concedes that the entire project may not be finished by game time.
    San Carlos resident Tapio Haaparanta, stopping to survey the scene during a cycling workout around the stadium, says that while the work presents quite a challenge, "They got it done the last time for the Poinsettia Bowl, so why not?"
    He paused, then laughed.  "Good luck."
    Harris says the emergency cleanup permit from the Army Corps of Engineers requires that the city have its equipment in the channel by Thursday evening in order to continue the project beyond that time.
    Attorneys for environmental groups that had challenged the legality of the permit say they will not appeal a federal district judge's ruling that upheld it.
    Meantime, with no guarantees that the mud-impacted parking spaces will soon be restored, football fans headed to the Holiday Bowl game are advised to carpool and use mass transit to the greatest extent possible.