Water, Water Everywhere...But in Our Pipes


L.A.'s breaking water pipes continue to flood our streets, and our poor infrastructure is starting to make us a laughingstock in the national media. But despite a bad September, LA DWP says things aren't really worse than usual.

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The New York Times has taken note with some gentle chiding:

This arid city is always looking for water. Lately, a lot of it can be found cascading down the streets....

One break caused a street cave-in whose resulting hole partly swallowed a fire truck sent in response. Some have occurred on major thoroughfares, the latest Monday morning at one of the city's busiest intersections, in the Miracle Mile area....

Since Sept. 1, there have been 43 breaks that have flooded or damaged streets, compared with 21 in September 2008, 17 in September 2007 and 13 in September 2006.

The NY Times notes an interesting irony: attempts to save water might be contributing to our losing so much of it in street flooding:

The rash of blowouts began in June, when a new drought-induced water policy went into effect, a circumstance leading outside engineers and analysts to question whether water restrictions are contributing to the problem.

Under the policy, residents are permitted to water their lawns only on Monday and Thursday, causing a surge in water flow those days that may be taxing the system, said Richard G. Little, a policy analyst at the University of Southern California who studies public infrastructure.

The Los Angeles Times has more context, saying that while September has been bad in historical terms, 2009 as a whole has not been:

Despite recent dramatic images of major water main breaks, including a 10-foot geyser of water and mud in Studio City and a sinkhole that swallowed half a fire engine in Valley Village, leaks and ruptures are a routine occurrence in the city's aging network of pipes, officials said. They said the number of breaks and leaks large and small -- 151 so far this month -- is within the normal range.....

The DWP typically sees about 1,400 leaks and breaks per year, about 200 of which are categorized as requiring "significant repairs," causing street closures or requiring repairs in excess of 100 square feet, officials say.

L.A. DWP's web site.

Zach Behrens at LAist.com on the LA DWP's attempts to encourage citizens of L.A. to harass each other with pre-printed DWP door hangers for violating the water use restrictions in effect.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Ian Broyles. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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