Main Break

Ho-hum: Old Pipes and Wasted Water

How many pipe failures does it take to get your attention?

Yesterday's Van Nuys "geyser" was certainly dramatic (you can watch it online now through several news media Web sites), but did you know that the Los Angeles area experienced 44 main breaks in September and 29 in October and one of them created a sinkhole that swallowed a fire truck?

Last Thursday, I was fortunate enough to have a main break in front of my home in the Dallas area. I must say I was intrigued by the repair process:

  • Bring in the trucks and backhoe;
  • Make a hole big enough to put a hose in the street and vacuum out the standing water;
  • Knock on doors to tell neighbors the water would be shut off from about 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
  • Cut a hole in the street big enough for a man to access the pipe;
  • Make the repair and fill in the hole.

Despite working in the rain, the workers were feeling pretty good about the job until one of them looked up to the street and saw a new river of muddy water bubbling up from a manhole. I heard some profanity, but, they regrouped and ran the routine again.

If too many of these occur, will we eventually consider them everyday happenings and not get excited or angry enough to do something substantial?

By the way, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported that the problem on Sherman Way near Van Nuys Boulevard occurred on an 8-inch connector to a 54-inch ductile iron pipe used to convey recycled water. The 54-inch pipe does not appear to have sustained any damage.

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Nov 03, 2009