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Franklin Reservoir may have had role in water main breaks

April 3, 2012 |  9:01 am

Water from a main break flows past homes in the 300 block of North Vista Street near Beverly Boulevard.

As the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power worked to stop the flooding associated with three water main breaks in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, officials were looking at the role the Franklin Canyon Reservoir may have played in the ruptures.

According to the DWP, the reservoir was recently taken offline as divers inspected its floating cover.

"As part of regular inspection protocol, the reservoir is taken offline and temporarily replaced by a different source of water,'' according to a DWP statement. "Operational changes such as these can cause fluctuations in pressure, and expose weaknesses in older main lines.''

MAP: Locations of water main breaks

The city's aging water system has been especially vulnerable to pressure changes.

In September 2009, the DWP had to respond to a rash of high-volume gushers. There were 43 breaks during that month. The most serious rupture took out a 5-foot-wide trunk line underneath Coldwater Canyon Avenue in Studio City and sent a 10-foot gusher of water and mud into the air, flooding homes and businesses.

The street, a major thoroughfare between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside, was closed for a week. Afterward, the city was hit with more than 108 legal claims, 41 of them from homeowners.

A panel of scientists, convened to analyze the problem, attributed the gushers to the city's water conservation policy -– in particular, restrictions on lawn watering -– that caused fluctuations in water pressure and strained an aging network of cast-iron pipes, the oldest in the DWP's network, extending at the time over 7,200 miles. The panel called for a more efficient pipe-replacement plan and an improved pipe-inspection program.


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Photo: Water from a main break flows past homes in the 300 block of North Vista Street near Beverly Boulevard. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times