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Water main ruptures in Long Beach [Updated]

September 30, 2009 |  8:40 am

At least 20 homes and a fire hydrant are without water this morning after another water main rupture, officials said. This time, however, the break is in Long Beach.

Long Beach firefighters and crews from the Public Works and Water departments were called to the scene in the 1300 block of Stevely Avenue shortly before 4 a.m., said Matthew Veeh, a Water Department spokesman.

Water was pouring out of an eight-inch, cast-iron main pipe installed in 1954, partially flooding the residential street, he said. But there were no immediate reports of property damage.

“They cut service to the area so they can look for the break site,” Veeh said. “They are pumping all the water out of it right now.”

The Water Department hopes to restore service to affected customers by midafternoon.

The rupture follows a series of similar incidents in Los Angeles, where the number of major water main breaks has more than doubled this month compared with the same period last year, according to the Department of Water and Power.

By Monday, the L.A. agency had recorded 43 breaks requiring significant repairs since Sept. 1, compared with 21 in September 2008. Some experts have suggested the city's recent decision to allow sprinklers to be used only two days a week may be increasing stress on the pipes because of sudden changes in pressure when customers turn water on and off at the same time.

But DWP officials will not speculate as to the cause of the breaks until an investigation is concluded. They add that the total number of leaks and ruptures – big and small -- remains within the normal range.

Long Beach has restricted sprinkler use to three days a week, but Veeh said the number of water main breaks this year is the lowest ever.

[Updated at 9:15 a.m.: Today’s water main rupture is the 26th this year in Long Beach, compared with 29 in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, 2008, Veeh said. Water Department personnel have located a break on the underside of the pipe, which they believe can be clamped up, Veeh said.]

[Updated at 9:43 a.m.: The department expects to restore service to affected customers by early afternoon. Water Department spokesman Veeh had earlier said it could be done in an hour.]

-- Alexandra Zavis

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