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Lake Hodges reopens to San Diego community after yearlong closure

After a yearlong closure, the Lake Hodges dam in San Diego's North County is open once again — just in time for summer. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says that, even though it's open again, there are plans to close it for good and construct a new dam nearby.

The Lake Hodges dam is old — over 100 years old, in fact. It opened in 1918, so it has dealt with some wear and tear over the years, and recently needed critical repair work to keep it up and running.

Now, it has been reopened to the community.

“It opened yesterday and will remain open through October. We're open for recreation Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays, sunrise to sunset,” the San Diego Public Utilities Department's Drew Kleis said on Friday.


He discussed some activities that residents can do there.

“Kayaking, canoeing, shore fishing, we have rental boat fishing,” he said. “And there are great hiking opportunities, so we're excited that it is back open again,” he added.

The city-owned Hodges Reservoir is primarily meant to impound water for drinking purposes, and serves tens of thousands of San Diegans every month.

“This year alone we moved over 6,000 acre-feet of water to our water-supply systems,” Kleis said. “That’s free water that we recover from the rainfall.”

The water level at the reservoir was lowered for planned maintenance work in May 2022, which revealed new cracks and defects that extended the dam repairs into a yearlong process.

Lake Hodges dam and reservoir is pictured with plants growing all around, June 2, 2023.
Charlotte Radulovich
The reopening of Lake Hodges dam and reservoir is temporary, with plans for a new dam in the works.

But, even with those most recent fixes, the dam doesn't have an infinite shelf life.

“The city has initiated the design of a new roller-compacted concrete dam. We anticipate being able to complete construction in 2034,” Kleis said.

He said an exact location hadn't yet been chosen for the new dam.

As for current recreation at Lake Hodges: Private boat launching and water contact activities such as paddle boarding and windsurfing are unavailable because of the low water levels and quality of the water.

The lake is closed on the third Wednesday of every month.