When Fire Engines Fall Prey to Sinkholes... - NBC Southern California

When Fire Engines Fall Prey to Sinkholes...



    When Fire Engines Fall Prey to Sinkholes...

    There's only one place to turn for a water main problem of this magnitude -- a panel of experts.

    The civil engineering experts will try to determine what caused more than 35 water main breaks during the first three weeks of September. That's the equivalent of two per day -- one to mess up your morning commute, one for the ride home.

    The breaks have flooded homes, swept away major sections of roads, created a fire engine-eating sinkhole, and closed a major Valley-to-Westside connection for one week.

    James McDaniel, senior assistant general manager for the city's water system, said the three dozen breaks are not unusual for a city the size of Los Angeles. What is unusual is the severity of the recent breaks.

    Despite the flood of problems, hope floats because of skilled people who know a lot about water systems. The panel includes experts from USC and Cornell University. It will look at potential causes, such as pipe corrosion and geological conditions.

    After a sinkhole caused by a water main break partially swallowed a fire engine in the West Valley, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city has a five-year plan to repair and replace old pipes, but the city would need more money to make the upgrades.