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June 25, 2007: Tecolote Sewer Spill Detected!

Monday, June 25th, 2007 at 8:50 am Jerry Poehlman, a volunteer for the Canyon Watch Program, detected gray water coming from the ground between manholes #178 and #88 in Tecolote Canyon. He estimated that contaminated sewage water was flowing at a rate of 10 gallons per minute, reaching a stream nearby. Jerry called the Sewer Emergency Hotline (619.515.3525) and alerted the San Diego Metropolitan Wastewater Department of the spill, including the exact GPS location of the source of the flowing sewage. The sewer spill originated near Mt Ashmun Drive and was actually flowing at an estimated rate of 100 gallons per minute according to the City. The Wastewater Department immediately deployed a portable dam to attempt to contain the spill. City crews are on sight trying to remove the blockage and repair the line. Read the Union Tribune Article!

Program Overview

Among the greatest treasures and natural resources we have in San Diego are our ocean and bays. Yet, every year pollutants from accidental sewage spills contaminate these waters. Sewage spills occur when a sewer pipe leaks raw sewage into the water. Often the sewage will overflow into a creek or into the street where it then flows onto a storm drain, and then directly into our natural water systems.

With more than 300 miles of sewer line in our urban canyons, when there is a sewer line failure the spill can go undetected for days leaving grim impact on our rivers, bays, and beaches. To change this course, SDOF teamed up with the City of San Diego’s Metropolitan Wastewater Department to form a patrol program that enlists volunteers to regularly walk sixteen of San Diego’s urban canyons and to report potential threats before a spill occurs.


Prevent pollution at its source by becoming a Canyon Watch volunteer! Canyon Watchers can hike canyons on their own time or join the SDOF staff and other volunteers on a monthly hike, looking for sewage spills by inspecting manholes and picking up litter. The next monthly group hike is on:


Volunteering is easy! You can choose to “adopt” a particular canyon and monitor it routinely, or you can pick a new canyon to explore and monitor each time. There are 25 canyons to choose from throughout San Diego County. It’s easy and flexible according to your needs and schedule.

Complete the Volunteer Application and indicate which canyon(s) you are interested in monitoring.
Download the Pollution Prevention Volunteer Waiver and return it to SDOF. You cannot volunteer for this program until you complete and return the Volunteer Application and Canyon Watch Volunteer waiver.
Select the Canyon Guide for the canyon of your choice, then follow the instructions within the guide – checking each manhole along the way. If you notice any odors, foam or discharge, vandalized or unsecured manholes or exposed sewer pipes, note the manhole number and location in your Monitoring Notes.
After each hike, fill out the Canyon Watch Field Report and indicate any findings. YOU MUST FILL OUT THE REPORT, EVEN IF EVERYTHING IS OK, as this is the only way we can track volunteer participation and is important for developing a timeline of events in case of a spill.
Please report any spills or leakage immediately and directly to the City’s Sewer Emergency Hotline at:

(619) 515- 3525.