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Coldwater closed due to broken water main

September 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Crews are trying to repair a broken water main in Studio City. Coldwater Canyon Avenue remains closed to northbound and southbound traffic between Halkirk Street and Ventura Boulevard.Commuters will likely have to use a detour until the end of the week because the road will have to be repaved after the pipe is fixed.

"At this point, I'm going to say Friday," said Mike Miller from the DWP.

Drivers should avoid using Coldwater Canyon between Mulholland Drive and Ventura Boulevard. The southbound lanes are also closed between Moorpark and Ventura Boulevard.

"The morning commute is going to be the worst. You know how it's packed here in L.A. anyway, to add to that with closures, you know, with water mains and all this, you know, it's really going to be inconvenient," said commuter Sean Inniss.

Monday, workers installed what looked like a giant Band-Aid to serve as a patch over the rupture.

Crews are making significant progress on the repairs. They have been working around the clock, so far completing excavation, stabilization, and welding repairs to the steel riveted pipe.

"We're going to pressurize the main, make sure there are no further leaks. Then we'll start following water through there and then make preparations to have the back field delivered in the morning," said DWP spokesperson Charlie Ordonia.

The break occurred late Saturday night near Coldwater Canyon and Dickens Street.

When the water main broke, dozens of homes and businesses were immediately flooded, and some people had to be rescued from cars that were swept away.

Several people at a nearby apartment building had to be evacuated. They were initially put up in a shelter at a local middle school, but those people are being housed at a nearby lodge.

Amir Chopra and his family have to move out of their home. The wood floor and the walls are ruined.

"Take apart everything, dehumidify everything, make sure there's no mold or anything," said Chopra. "From there, we have to build a new house."

Robert Mechaalani estimates water caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage to his backyard, but he says he's not angry.

"I'm not going to judge the city like everybody else. I will see what the result.. they're going to repair it, they're going to take care of us, all the street, whatever was flooded," said Mechaalani, a Studio City resident.

Janet Bertolus owns Atik, a store that sells antiques and art work. On Sunday, the water inside her business was three feet deep.

"This is a 150-year-old piece from France, and you can see there are water marks up about almost three feet high, and it sat in water for apparently four hours," said Bertolus.

At nearby businesses, the cleanup continues. Shop owners say they won't be able to reopen for another four to six weeks.

"I saw some of the footage the night before, so it was like a muddy river coming through here," said shop owner Dave Tronson.

"Our prime focus right now is to get the muck cleaned out," he said.

DWP officials believe it was the old age of the pipe that caused it to burst. It was built in 1914 and is one of the oldest water mains in the city.

Miller said despite the pipe being so old, it wasn't slated to be replaced for a five more years, even though the same pipe ruptured about 200 feet from the same location about 15 years ago.

"We've got a very aggressive replacement program in place currently, but it's spread over a period of time, so this pipe is phase 5 of this particular trunk line replacement, and I think we're looking at having it replaced in about five years," he said.

Crews are still trying to assess the damage and will probably not have an estimate out for a few more days.

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