By Edwin Folven, 4/05/2012
Flooding and Damage is Contained to Streets
Repair work at the Lower Franklin Reservoir in the Hollywood Hills caused six water mains to rupture early Tuesday morning under streets in the Fairfax District and the surrounding area, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP).
The ruptures occurred between 4 and 6:30 a.m., and caused flooding and traffic delays as crews repaired the damage. The largest rupture occurred under 3rd Street at the intersection of Gilmore Lane, in front of the Original Farmers Market, where an eight-inch water main burst. The water service was restored in the area around 12:30 p.m., and the street reopened around 6:30 p.m., according to DWP officials.
A total of 120 customers were without water from all of the pipe breaks, and crews worked throughout the day to restore service. The Original Farmers Market did not lose water service and no flooding or disruptions were reported. However, the Starbucks at the Farmers Market was reportedly without water service until after 12:30 p.m. Several small businesses in the Town and Country shopping center at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue were also without water throughout the morning. Andre Dominic, the owner of Andre’s Restaurant, located between Whole Foods Market and K-Mart in the shopping complex, said he had no water service Tuesday morning, but the water was restored during the lunch hour. All flooding was contained to the streets. Whole Foods and K-mart, the largest two businesses in the complex, are connected to a different water main than the small businesses, and their service was not affected.
In addition to the rupture at 3rd and Gilmore Lane, water mains broke in the 900 block of Croft Avenue, the 5800 block of La Mirada Avenue, the 6000 block of Waring Avenue, the 1100 block of N. McCadden Place, and the 300 block of Vista Street.
The Lower Franklin Reservoir is located north of Sunset Boulevard and west of Coldwater Canyon Boulevard. A DWP crew was conducting routine maintenance on the cover on Monday, and the reservoir was taken offline and temporarily replaced by another source. The change temporarily increased water pressure, which caused some older pipes to burst. The water main at 3rd Street and Gilmore Lane was installed in 1949, while the others date from 1925 to 1969. The ruptures were not anticipated, and DWP crews worked to reduce the water pressure to prevent any further problems. The work at the reservoir is scheduled to be completed by Friday.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District, said the pipe breaks are a problem that occur from time to time, and that he is working with the DWP on programs to improve the infrastructure. The DWP is currently seeking a 5 percent increase in water rates, and a 10.5 percent increase in electricity rates, to help pay for infrastructure improvements.
“Many of these pipes go back forty of fifty years or more, and it’s going to take some hardcore construction,” LaBonge said. “We have a fragile infrastructure, and we have regular inspections, and when the pressure changes, it can blow, and it blows big.”
Bob Tusquellas, owner of Tusquellas Seafoods and Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts at the Farmers Market, said he was not surprised by the pipe ruptures.
“It doesn’t concern me much, when you have been here as long as we have,” said Tusquellas, who has been a merchant at the Farmers Market since 1966. “Everything in the city is old, and these pipes are old, but they better start fixing them before they start breaking all the time and cause even more problems.”