Major overhaul of waterlines beneath El Camino Real planned in Encinitas


A major overhaul of the waterlines beneath one of the city’s busiest roadways is likely to impact drivers throughout the coming new year, and it’s going to be immediately followed by a pavement re-striping project.

The water lines that run beneath El Camino Real were installed in 1961 -- many decades before Encinitas even incorporated as a city. By replacing these 12-inch pipes with new ones, Olivenhain Municipal Water District will eliminate the risk of a sudden water line break in what is now a very aging pipeline system, Jason Hubbard, OMWD engineering manager, said Thursday, Sept. 19.

Contractors also will be installing these new pipes much closer to the surface than the old ones, which now are 10 to 12 feet underground.

“It’s extremely deep, it no longer meets our standards,” Hubbard said as he described the difficulties of accessing the current pipes.

The construction work is scheduled to begin in early 2020 and continue through that year and into the next one. After the pipes are replaced by the water district, the city plans to re-stripe the roadway to improve conditions for bicyclists.

The water district and the city held a joint meeting recently to discuss their construction plans, and residents already have started calling Hubbard to ask about construction-related traffic delays, he said. He’s told the callers that this week’s roadwork activity at the El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard intersection, as well as the recent work farther north on El Camino Real near the garden supply store, are not part of the big water district project.

Plans call for the waterline pipe replacement work to occur at times when vehicle traffic is reduced -- between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, Hubbard said. At least, that’s the goal, he added, stressing, “That could change for a whole host of reasons.”

The water district expects to replace about 4,700 linear feet of pipe line along North El Camino Real between Encinitas Boulevard and Garden View Road. A section of El Camino Real pipeline -- about 650 linear feet between Via Molena and Mountain Vista Drive -- also will be replaced, as will fire hydrant lines and water service lines to individual properties.

The district’s web site states that the contractors will be following a city-approved traffic management plan to reduce impacts to everything from night noise to business entrance access along the busy roadway.

“OMWD anticipates there will only be one shutdown of water service for most businesses/residences, the duration of which will be kept as short as possible,” the web site states.

For waterline project information, visit

For the restriping project information, visit the city’s project page or contact or call (760) 943-2211.

The city project page indicates that the vehicle traffic lanes on El Camino Real will be re-striped and narrowed from Encinitas Boulevard to Leucadia Boulevard. Reflective, plastic bollards will be placed as buffers between the bike lanes and the vehicle lanes. Green paint also will added to the bike lanes to call attention to them, particularly in areas where there could be conflict between vehicles and bikes.

— Barbara Henry is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune