Fears of West Nile Virus are prompting local officials to plan significant renovation work in a Southeastern San Diego streambed where concrete channel lining has created a stagnant water breeding ground for mosquitos.
The San Diego Planning Commission is scheduled on Thursday to approve spending $290,000 in county “vector control” funds on the project, which is located in a residential area near the Lenox Drive Bridge over Chollas Creek in Encanto.
The stagnant water has been identified by the county Department of Environmental Health as a high priority treatment site due to its location near residential development and the potential for breeding of mosquitos with potentially deadly West Nile Virus.
The county and city two years ago completed similar work on a different area of standing water in Chollas Creek in the Southcrest Trails area, which is farther to the south and west.
“These projects are consistent with our overall goals for water quality and habitat improvement in the watershed,” said Leslie Reynolds, executive director of Groundwork San Diego, a nonprofit focused on upgrading Chollas Creek. “The county has been very generous helping us with these high priority vector projects.”
The elimination of the mosquito breeding areas will be accomplished by removing the existing concrete, regrading the channel bottom to create a constant slope and placing natural stone there.
The top of the existing concrete drop structure will be broken up by jack hammer or back hoe. Breaking up the concrete will change this hardscape feature to a permeable surface that will allow water to drain into the ground and stabilize the creek bed.
The goal is enhancing the natural flow of the drainage channel, which will eliminate standing water, and using natural stones to slow the water and the erosion of the drainage channel.
The work will take place in a 20-foot wide area approximately 100 feet upstream from the Lenox Drive Bridge.
Reynolds said the work should begin in about two months and be completed in less than a year.
Her group has a long-term goal of replacing the entire concrete flood control channel in Chollas Creek with natural soil as part of transforming the area into a regional park.
Local leaders have shown support for that idea. The next step would be the city providing $1 million for a master plan for Chollas Creek Regional Park, which would cover 32 square miles including much of southeastern San Diego and parts of La Mesa and Lemon Grove