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Three more main breaks send water, mud spewing into L.A. streets

Watermain3

The rash of water-main breaks continued this morning, with at least three more ruptures causing flooding and street closures in the Hollywood Hills and South Los Angeles.

The main breaks were reported starting just before 2 a.m., pushing the tally of major blowouts in L.A.'s water system since Sept. 1 to at least 49.

A 12-inch steel water main ruptured about 2 a.m. at the 13600 block of Mulholland Drive near Beverly Ranch Road, sending water flowing down the street and causing minor street damage, said Gale Harris, a spokeswoman for the L.A. Department of Water and Power.

Authorities have closed Mulholland Drive from Coldwater Canyon Avenue to Benedict Canyon Drive as they work to repair the break and stem major flooding that has sent water into surrounding streets and homes.

Water main Minutes later, at 2:07 a.m., fire officials responded to a report of a possible sinkhole at 83rd and Wall streets in South Los Angeles. A 6-inch cast-iron water main had broken, spewing mud and debris into the street.

A third break was reported at 2:29 a.m. a few miles away at Florence and Van Ness avenues, officials said. A pipe burst in that intersection, breaking open the asphalt and lifting it up. The intersection has been closed while crews repair the damage.

Firefighters have responded to six separate reports of flooding since 12:30 a.m., several of which turned out to be minor, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott.

 One of them, reported in the 2900 block of Deep Canyon Drive at 1:55 a.m. was probably related to the Mulholland Drive break, he said.

The ongoing pipe blowouts, which have become a near-daily occurrence, flooding streets, buckling pavement and opening up sinkholes across the city, have puzzled Los Angeles officials, who are seeking explanations for the dramatic uptick.

City engineers are analyzing each break and have been taking soil samples and investigating whether Los Angeles' water rationing program, which allows sprinklers to run only on Mondays and Thursdays, could be to blame.

Earlier this month, the DWP enlisted the help of Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists, who are studying whether tectonic activity from recent earthquakes is partially to blame for the increased severity of the ruptures to Los Angeles' aging water system.

Officials have stressed that the city's 7,200 miles of pipe are not actually leaking more Water mainthan usual -- in fact, the number of leaks, about 1,400 a year, is down from the past — but as today has shown, recent bursts have gushed more and been more destructive. 

-- Tony Barboza

Photos: At top, Randy Cohen, who lives on Donington Place in Beverly Hills, looks at her neighbors' pool, flooded by mud from a water-main break on Mulholland Drive. Above left, water pools on Mulholland Drive near Benedict Canyon after crews shut off the water to a main that broke earlier in the morning. At right, a parking enforcement officer directs traffic at 83rd and Wall streets in South L.A. after an  early-morning main break. Credits: Top and left, Al Seib / Los Angeles Times. Right,  Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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Comments () | Archives (15)

Have they checked their water pressures in various parts of town?

Can't DWP use David Nahai's "institutional knowledge" to prevent these blowouts? He is being paid handsomely and should have the available time.

Considering the age, the elements, and the fact that if you build a house to house 100 people, and you have two hundred people living in it, the wear and tear on it will take its toll.

All of Californians need to take this example seriously, now its the water mains, next may be our freeways, roadways, and walkways, and start re-enforcing everything now to prevent it.

Oh, sure, grasp at straws. Try to blame it on ANYTHING else except LA DWP's asinine water rationing program.

MORE WATER HAS NOW BEEN WASTED THAN WOULD EVER HAVE BEEN SAVED BY THE WATER RATIONING PROGRAM.

Time to admit defeat and 'fess up. The rationing program is a huge failure, and the citizens of LA have been put through hardship FOR NOTHING!

Posting again - seems DWP and their mouthpieces at the LA Times can't handle the truth!

Oh, sure, grasp at straws. Try to blame it on ANYTHING else except LA DWP's asinine water rationing program.

MORE WATER HAS NOW BEEN WASTED THAN WOULD EVER HAVE BEEN SAVED BY THE WATER RATIONING PROGRAM.

Time to admit defeat and 'fess up. The rationing program is a huge failure, and the citizens of LA have been put through hardship FOR NOTHING!

Aallen, even if the rationing program IS to blame (what a waste, all that water wasted by poor planning trying to save it), we've been put through "hardship?" Like what, not being able to water our lawns as much as we like? Having to sweep our sidewalks instead of spraying them? No wonder people make fun of Anglenos for being soft and shallow.

The majority of L.A.'s underground water systems were created in the 1950's, and some even go back as far as 1906. Looks like there is a whole lot of work to be done, considering every pipe is due for replacement.

This state is so broke right now, I don't know how it can be done. And what happens when the 'big earthquake' hits? Who will help California? FEMA is broke too.

Meanwhile, news reporters and tv commercials say turn off the water while you brush your teeth.

Its funny that the legislature is groveling over water and LA has water main breaks alomost on a daily basis. I wonder if the Mayor fixed his sprinkler problem? Oh, he is a sound sleeper. Apparently, the DWP are also sound sleepers. Where is the study results at, that is suppose to being done by these professors? Just a thought, take a city map, plot all the recent water main breaks, do a little deductive reasoning and plan a course of action. You could probably plot where the next burst will be. But, I'm not a professor and being payed thousands of taxpayer dollars to figure it out.

Far more than just coincidence. Could it be $$ towards maintanence was diverted? Could it be pressure up and down weakening the system? Could it be JPL? Could it be DWP looking for ways to get more $$ for new construction? Whatever it is it smells fishy!

No doubt, the good citizens of LA will be paying for all the repairs as well!

my apartment was DESTROYED by a water main break on NEW YEARS with EVERYthing i owned, the LADWP have yet to complete my claim and reimburse me for my belongings... yet they wanna pay someone 27,000 a month to be available to take a call if they need to ask them a question! And they're taking their time repairing the lines. The lady who is handling my claim is "out of the office" for three months. No wonder this state/county/city is in such a state of disrepair. People get paid for doing nothing, then want to raise everyones rates!

The culprit seems to be the day by day rationing of water. That seems so silly. In the San Francisco Bay Area where I've lived, they've had rationing on and off for years, and never attempted such a program. You're just asked to cut back your usage by a certain percent, and are hit with large rate increases if you go over. People learn how to do it, like installing timed sprinklers or watering at certain times of day. You don't wind up with whole neighborhoods having pent-up demand to all use their allotment on certain days of the week, which has been identified as a possible cause of these breaks. Why don't they stop the program immediately and consult with EBMUD (Oakland and East Bay water company) to see that rationing can be done in a rational way? It's not that difficult.

No doubt the good citizens of LA will be paying for the repairs as well!

Don't you get it? Inch by inch, break by break, the city is in fact replacing their outdated system. Sure it would be cheaper to bid the job and replace the entire system under a well controlled program but you could never get public approval of the funding. This way the DWP employees and their subcontractors get all that nice overtime and emergency pay with no limit on the spending.

Why is the city paying this Nahai clown? My business partner and I have installed miles and miles of water main. We know the codes and have the code books needed for installation. We can tell you right now, today where the problem lies, but the powers that be would'nt like that too much. Nadai makes $6,200 a week? Was'nt he the man in charge while all this was happening?
We will do your consulting for half the price if the city is SERIOUS about rectifying this situation. Not only will we explain the situation but show you. Trying to blame it on sprinklers DWP GET REAL. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!


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