LA Installs Shake-Resistant Water Pipes at 'Epicenter' of 1994 Upheaval | NBC Southern California

Remembering the earthquake that devastated Los Angeles County on Jan. 17, 1994

LA Installs Shake-Resistant Water Pipes at 'Epicenter' of 1994 Upheaval

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    The DWP was experimenting with a rupture-resistant pipe from Japan, and now the pipes are being installed in critical parts of Los Angeles, including near the epicenter of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. (Published Friday, Jan. 16, 2015)

    Earthquake-resistant water pipes are being installed at critical locations around the city, including near the epicenter of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, as part of a $10 million project, city officials announced Friday.

    The iron pipes, made by Japanese company Kubota Corp., are "ductile," which means they are designed to bend without breaking during an earthquake.

    The pipes are segmented to allow for some flexibility in case of shaking, landslide or temperature changes. A locking mechanism kicks in to keep the pipe together if the force becomes more than the pipe can handle.

    The pipes are being installed at sites considered important to the city's 7,200-mile water pipe infrastructure, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials said.

    The first of five planned projects was completed in 2013 in a residential area of Sherman Oaks on Contour Drive, where 1,750 feet of 6-inch earthquake-resistant pipes were put in.

    Construction crews began work in October on a $5.2 million project near Northridge Hospital Medical Center to install 6,500 feet of the piping along Reseda Boulevard, Etiwanda Avenue, Cantara Street and Strathern Street. The work is expected to be finished in December.

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    Mayor of the City of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti boasted the area will be better prepared than ever for earthquakes under his watch due to measures such as this.

    "As long as I'm mayor, we won't be caught off-guard again," Garcetti said during a news conference at the site, "We are standing at the epicenter of the Northridge earthquake to usher in a new era of resiliency for our city and install 6,500 feet of earthquake-resistant piping to protect our water supply in the event of an earthquake."

    Garcetti said the pipe replacement plan is a component of his earthquake resiliency plan, which he unveiled last month.

    "My plan will fortify our water supply, retrofit our most vulnerable buildings and secure our communications infrastructure to save lives and our economy after the next big earthquake in Los Angeles," he said.

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    Saliba Salo, president of Dignity Health Northridge Hospital, said "the hospital relies on the city of Los Angeles and LADWP to secure its access to water and electricity."

    "We are thrilled that our site was purposely selected as an important community asset. After all, as we saw during the Northridge earthquake, during a crisis the community will look to us for urgent medical needs and we need to be able to provide the basics such as water and electricity," Salo said.

    Joe Castruita, the LADWP's head of Water Distribution, said the utility will break ground this year at three remaining locations believed to be "critical to the reliability of the city's overall water system."

    "We know this pipe has proven effective in Japan with no damage or leaks over the last 40 years," Castruita said.

    Those installation projects will be in the harbor area on 94th Street; in downtown Los Angeles on Temple Street at Figueroa Street; and in the Western district along Coliseum Street, between Genesee and Carmona avenues.

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