Cahuenga Pass Water Main Ruptures 4th Time in 11 Years - NBC Southern California

Cahuenga Pass Water Main Ruptures 4th Time in 11 Years

AT&T Makes Progress Restoring Affected Service

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fourth Main Rupture on Hollywood Hills Street

    The City of LA replaces more than 30 miles a year of aging water mains, but neighbors on Oak Glen Drive are concerned after a pipe ruptured again Sunday for at least the fourth time in 11 years. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 6 on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016. (Published Monday, Aug. 1, 2016)

    Interruptions to landline internet and telephone services still plagued residents in portions of the Hollywood Hills Monday evening in the wake of the latest water main break in a series over the years. 

    The break Sunday sent torrents of water — as much as a thousand gallons a minute — cascading down Oak Glen Drive, across sidewalks and into homes, yards, and businesses below. The rupture has since been repaired, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

    It's believed water from the break got into a below-ground AT&T equipment vault at the corner of Cahuenga and Oakshire Drive.

    "Due to a break in a water main, some customers in the Hollywood Hills area may be experiencing issues with their wireline service," said AT&T spokesperson Meredith Red. "Technicians are on-site working around the clock to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience."

    Late Monday evening, AT&T reported that service had been restored "for the majority of our customers," and that work would continue "through the night until all our customers are back in service."

    The 8-inch main failed beneath the 3300 block of Glen Oak Drive. LADWP crews replaced a 10-foot section after finding a split in the cast iron pipe, said Marty Adams, Sr. Asst. General Manager. He said it had been installed in 1958.  

    Oak Glen runs two curvy, hilly blocks between Oakshire and Broadlawn Drives. Previous breaks had occurred last summer, in 2011 and in 2005, Adams said.

    "It's not an indication the pipe is failing as a whole," Adams said. "But we're certainly looking at it and we're sending out engineers to make sure we don't have a bigger problem than we thought we did."

    The possibility of earth movement, which can strain pipes, will be investigated, Adams said.

    Last summer, at the north end of Oak Glen, the Vaughan family had watched water from another break rush over the sidewalk and through their front yard. Additional breaks in a separate main beneath Oakley Drive had also sent runoff down Oak Glen past the Vaughan home. Oakley Drive has experienced "multiple leaks since 1998," according to the LADWP.

    Oak Glen has a summit in the middle of its run, and Sunday's break sent water away from the Vaughan home. But Deb Vaughan heard about it.

    "I think it's an issue," Vaughan said of the multiple failures. "But hopefully not in our front yard again."

    For much of the 20th century, thanks to the visionary work of the legendary William Mulholland, LA's water delivery system had been recognized as a national model. But in recent decades, deferred maintenance has taken a toll, and in the past handful of years, the LADWP has begun ramping up replacement of critical water mains believed to be near the end of their service life.

    Like students, water mains are graded from "A" to "F." Of the 7,000 miles of mains in the LADWP system, it rates 440 miles as "D" or "F." Oak Glen's main has been given a "D," Adams said.

    This past year, LADWP replaced 31 miles of "F" pipes, including the main through Runyon Canyon, a project which required four months.

    The department plans to replace 35 miles in the coming year, and eventually expects to fix 50 miles per year, Adams said, acknowledging that even at this rate of progression, replacing all of the "F" pipes could still take another five years.

    Temperature extremes tend to lead to increasing rate of pipe failure, with spikes during both winter and summer. Adams said the rate of breaks had increased slightly at the beginning of this summer, then tapered off.

    "As we continue replacement, hopefully we'll see the number of breaks go down," Adams said.

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