Water main break, geyser flood UCLA campus, strand motorists

LOS ANGELES Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:40am EDT

1 of 4. A man walks through flood water up stairs from a parking structure outside UCLA's Pauley Pavilion sporting arena as water flows from a broken thirty inch water main that was gushing water onto Sunset Boulevard near the UCLA campus in the Westwood section of Los Angeles July 29, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A major water main ruptured underneath a street near the University of California, Los Angeles on Tuesday, unleashing a 20-foot-tall geyser and millions of gallons of water that flooded part of campus and stranded motorists on nearby streets.

The water gushed across the north end of the campus for several hours, submerging athletic fields and pouring into an underground parking structure, where motorists were caught in water up to their wheel wells, Los Angles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

The deluge happened as California suffers through a record drought that has prompted state and local authorities to impose water-use restrictions on residents, such as fines for wasting even a few gallons on excessive lawn-watering.

Humphrey said there were no injuries reported in the flooding but that fire department swift water rescue teams were on scene as a precaution and that crews helped drivers caught in the mud and flowing water.

He said the athletic fields and possibly some classrooms would likely suffer water damage, although it was too early to estimate.

Television images showed students wading through knee-deep water as the geyser continued to pour water onto nearby Sunset Boulevard. Firefighters placed sandbags outside classrooms and helped drivers stuck in water and mud.

Workers were removing inches of standing water from the floor of the UCLA basketball team's Pauley Pavilion, which in 2012 underwent a multi million-dollar renovation, university spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said.

The pipe was shut off some four hours after the rupture and about eight million to 10 million gallons of water had been lost, the city's Department of Water and Power (DWP) said.

The break happened around 3:30 p.m. local time. By 6 p.m. the geyser had subsided substantially but water was still pouring from a gaping hole in the asphalt.

No customers were without water and water quality was not compromised, the DWP said.

Sunset, a major thoroughfare through the city's west side, was shut down in both directions, jamming traffic during the afternoon rush-hour commute.

The more than 90-year-old riveted steel pipe carries an estimated 75,000 gallons per minute, the DWP said.

It said workers had to shut down multiple valves that would stop the water from flowing from the 30-inch main without breaking any nearby pipes. Repairs would continue through Wednesday.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Sandra Maler, Eric Walsh and Paul Tait)

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Comments (3)
Telstar wrote:
This has been a known problem for decades. Last month, the power went off in this area due to water seepage…over and over and over again. Garcetti must be impeached. It was a known problem. DWP officials, who appear above the law and have trash men making 100k must be FIRED.

Jul 29, 2014 10:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
morbas wrote:
Infrastructure thrown under the ‘Tea Party Express’ bus.
We need a New Deal Honorable POTUS Obama…
Federal plus state plus municipality is greater than $8.06 trillion. The sum total of all personal income is $12.98 trillion. Thus, the governments are operating at 50 percent of total personal income.
With a centralized banking system, the federal government can print more money than collected in revenue; states and municipalities cannot. Taxation at state and municipal levels is less progressive than federal, which burdens the lowest income levels with the highest effective rate; and the upper 2 percent with the lowest effective rate. Thus, municipalities borrow more in a recession, as the lower quintile’ wages are more diminished. We have cities falling into bankruptcy.
Municipalities Bankrupt: San Bernardo CA, Mammoth Lakes Ca , Stockton CA, Central Falls MA, Hauppauge NY, Jefferson County MI, Harrisburg PA, Boise County ID.
We need to address ubiquitous Municipal debt by a nationalized the income tax system.

Jul 30, 2014 9:06am EDT  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:
That’ll solve the water shortage. Waste 50 million gallons of water because your pipes haven’t been updated in 100 years. Got a shiny new LEED certified Wasserman Building though, where the bathrooms smell like pee all the time because the toilets don’t flush right (to conserve….. water).


Jul 30, 2014 11:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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