Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

20 Million Gallons Cascade on UCLA


July 28, 2014

Workers push water on the UCLA campus, which was flooded by a broken thirty inch water main in the Westwood section of Los Angeles July 29, 2014

Utility crews struggled today to completely stop the flow of leaking water near a 30-inch riveted-steel pipe that ruptured north of the UCLA campus, sending 20 millions of gallons cascading onto the campus, and Department of Water and Power officials said it could take days to get Sunset Boulevard reopened.

The 93-year-old water main, which carries water to the area from the Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir, ruptured on Sunset near Marymount Place just north of the campus shortly before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, sending a geyser through Sunset and turning streets into rivers and portions of the UCLA campus into oceans of water and mud.

The gusher opened a roughly 20-foot-wide sinkhole in Sunset Boulevard. DWP crews were dispatched to the scene, but because of the flooding and resulting traffic snarls, they didn't reach the area until nearly 5 p.m., when they began to slowly shut off the 75,000-gallon-per-minute flow of water. That process ended around 8 p.m.

But as of mid-afternoon today, DWP officials said they still had not been able to completely stop water from leaking in the breakage area, and thus repair work had not even begun.

The problem involves a Y-shaped juncture of the 30-inch main with a 36- inch main, and at least two valves were still leaking east of the site of the break, Jeff Bray of the DWP said. Repairs cannot be made until the water flow is stopped, and officials said the repair work will be "complex."

DWP officials said the valves were about 95 percent closed, but crews couldn't get them fully closed.

"Some of the problems that we've had, just like the pipe is 90-plus years old, the valves that shut off the pipe are also 90-plus years old. They don't always work as they're intended to," according to Jim McDaniel, senior assistant general manager for DWP's water system. "So this is something that our crews are trained for. We have to go in and we have a number of techniques we use to get stuck valves closed. So right now we're working on getting all the valves shut down."

If those efforts fail, McDaniel said crews will insert an inflatable plug into the pipe to cut off the water flow.

"Once we have that done we can move in and we'll as quickly as possible get going on the actual repairs," he said.

McDaniel said that as of mid-afternoon, about 1,000 gallons of water per minute were still leaking from the ruptured main.

DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards estimated that it would be another 48 hours minimum before the repair work is completed, meaning Sunset Boulevard would likely remain closed between Veteran and Hilgard avenues until at least Friday.

"We promise you we will be here 24 hours a day until we get this site repaired," Edwards said.

Authorities suggested using Wilshire, Santa Monica and Olympic boulevards as alternate routes, and encouraged motorists to carpool or telecommute.


Reader Comments

builder7 writes:

So, 20 million gallons of water are wasted because they are using 90 year old pipe. How much does the drought cost Los Angeles and wouldn't it make sense to install pipe that is not outmoded? This seems like a big waste, especially when people can only water their lawns certain days of the week!


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