Flood-Prevention Pump Installed in Normal Heights Keeping Neighbors Awake

The sound of a pump turned on during heavy rains is a nuisance that is keeping Normal Heights residents awake at night, and forces them to leave their homes during the day

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Heavy rains bring along a noise nuisance for residents living in a cul de sac on Pananma Place in Normal Heights.

Neighbors claim the city of San Diego installed a pump to suck water out of a drain whenever it rains because the underground pipe serving the drain has collapsed. While the pump prevents a serious problem, it also creates another one: the sound of the pump's generator is so loud some residents say they can't sleep at night.

One man said he has to leave his home if the pump is on during the day.

"It's very loud, like a lawn mower or somebody gunning a motorcycle, and if it is raining hard, they can leave it on for hours, day and night," said Greg Cilli, whose bedroom window is about 20 feet from the pump.

After his attempts at trying to get city officials to do something over the last four years, Cilli filed a claim against the city.

"We just ask the city, instead of passing the buck, fix the problem," he said.

The neighbor next door, Cheryl Mallinoff, called the noise "irritating, very Irritating."

Besides being a nuisance, she also claims it is a waste of money. City workers station themselves near the pump during the rains, according to Mallinoff.

"You wonder how much they've spent sending two guys who stayed over Thanksgiving. It rained three or four days, those guys were here 24 hours a day on holiday pay, then come down here stand next to it, and turn it on, and hang around," she said.

City spokesperson Anthony Santacroce sent the following statement in an email.

"The pump is in place to protect an entire neighborhood. The pipe running through the easement along this property is broken and can not carry water away from nearby houses as designed. When rains arrive, water that would normally enter the pipe must be pumped to by-pass the broken segment.

The pump is constantly monitored by a City worker and is only operated when absolutely necessary.

There are other similar by-pass pumps operated in the same manner, scattered throughout the City. Engineers and environmental permitting specialists are working on designs for permanent repairs at each location. Those repairs will be unique to each site with varying construction timelines and costs.

At this time there is no estimate when permanent repairs will be made at Panama Place. Other locations are ahead of this site in the planning, design, and funding process.

The City understands how noisy and disruptive these pumps can be when forced into operation at night. That is why a City team member is stationed at the pump when rains are expected. They do all possible to keep operations down to just what is necessary to protect nearby houses."

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