Water Main Breaks Day After Report Shows Fixing L.A.’s Century-Old Water System Could Cost $15B

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Crews are seen repairing a broken water main in Fairfax on March 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

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Water flowed down Fairfax streets Saturday morning after a water main broke one day after a report indicated repairing such pipes in Los Angeles could cost billions.

Crews are seen repairing a broken water main in Fairfax on March 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)
Crews are seen repairing a broken water main in Fairfax on March 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

A 6-inch cast iron water main broke sometime before 1:45 a.m. on Beverly Boulevard between North Poinsettia Place and North Alta Vista Boulevard, said Albert Rodriguez with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Water filled the roadways, causing moderate damage before it was shut off about an hour later, he added.

About 10 to 15 customers’ service was shut off, he said, and the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted that one eastbound lane on Beverly Boulevard was closed.

Service restoration and repairs were expected around 4 p.m., Rodriguez said.

The amount of water lost was not yet estimated, but the incident occurred days after Councilman Jose Huizar called the loss of thousands of gallons of water when the LADWP drained  Eagle Rock Reservoir an “apparent contradiction.”

Some 70,000 gallons of water cascaded down Eagle Rock streets as officials prepared to work on the reservoir’s water pipes before outraged locals motivated the public utility to rush to the scene and capture about three-quarters of the water.

Two days later, Huizar demanded an explanation.

The council member, whose district includes Eagle Rock, also introduced a motion that would require LADWP to  report back to the City Council on methods of reducing water waste during standard maintenance and upgrades, and consider the creation of plans to capture and reuse water being drained.

On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to earthquake-proof the areas water system would cost some $12 to $15 billion over the next 20 years, according to an internal DWP report.

That estimate would make the it one of the costliest infrastructure projects in California history, the Times reported.

The overhaul would include fortifying the Los Angeles Aqueduct where it runs across the San Andreas fault and replacing some of L.A.'s more than 7,000 miles of pipes.

Garcetti was made aware of the report’s findings, and planned to seek a statewide bond for the costs.

But the Times reported this could be a “tough sell amid competing initiatives,” and the only other alternative may be customer rate hikes.

The DWP report did not include an analysis of potential increases, but the Times reported customers in San Francisco - where $4.8-billion retrofitting project is expected to begin - water bills are predicted to triple.

Fairfax resident Philip Bubar told KTLA on Sunday he wouldn’t balk at a hike.

“Do I want to pay more money in rates? Ultimately, yes. Because that would save us in the longterm,” he said.

But Jack Humphreville, who tracks DWP issues as a member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, told the Times an increase “wouldn’t fly.”

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