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3 more water main breaks in Los Angeles

September 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
DWP crews are dealing with more water main breaks in the Fairfax district and south Los Angeles.The two breaks Tuesday night happened within 40 minutes of each other. One happened at 1231 N Hayworth Ave., and the other happened at 1443 Hi Point St. The third happend Wednesday afternoon on 54th Street in south Los Angeles.

On Hi Point, a six inch water main broke, sending a large amount of water pouring into the street. Water was shut off for about 50 customers.

Crews working on the N Hayworth Ave. break say 40 customers were without water while they repaired the line.

Both lines were fixed, and the water was turned back on about 11 a.m. Wednesday.

There have been five breaks in the last four days, and some worry that we might need to upgrade and repair our pipe system right away

"So there is a significant pattern of the city that they've had a number of these what they call breaks that take a big impact, and I'm thinking, what is going on here," says Tom LaBonge of L.A. City Council.

Tuesday, another main break caused a huge sink hole in Valley Village, where the street collapsed under the weight of a fire truck.

And on Saturday night, a spectacular break on Coldwater Canyon, where a busted 62-inch trunk line flooded homes and businesses. Though Coldwater was initially expected to reopen by Friday, officials say it may not reopen until Saturday since they still have to worry about all the dirt that was used to fill in the hole. They want to make sure that all that is settled before they pave it over and that's going to take several days.

"This disastrous break and flood that we've had in the Coldwater area I think points out the fact that there's only so long that you can defer maintenance without causing yourself some real trouble," says Paul Koretz of the L.A. City Council.

At Wednesday's city council meeting, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials say in that break, they found evidence of corrosion. The pipe dates back to 1914 and was scheduled to be upgraded in the next five years.

"We also need to do something to accelerate it. This is why we've said that we want to literally double our efforts over the next five years," says David Nahai of GWP.

Nahai says we need another $2.7 billion in those five years. There are 7,200 miles of pipes under the city of Los Angeles, which is enough to stretch to New York and back.

Every year, we have about 1,400 leaks, but they say that's actually quite good, since that is about half the national average for big cities.

"This is quite normal, really, the department does its work efficiently and quietly and most people don't even know that a break has occurred," adds Nahai.

Officials say that the big problems is funding, but they also say if they don't do the upgrades now, it will cost much more later if these pipes fail.

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