News Feature | July 31, 2014

Massive UCLA Water Main Break Points To City's Infrastructure Needs

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

UCLAreg

A 93-year old water main ruptured near the University of California-Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 29, posing a danger to students as 8 to 10 million gallons of water poured onto their campus.

Carrying about 75,000 gallons of water per minute, the pipe sent "a torrent raging through parking structures and athletic facilities" but caused no reported injuries, USA Today reported. "Firefighters, some using inflatable boats, saved at least five people who were stranded in the underground parking structures," the Associated Press reported

Firefighters warned that the water is "extremely dangerous," the USA Today reported. It took city water officials around four hours to turn off the line, which is 30 inches in diameter, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The rupture left a mess on campus, which was "covered in mud and water. The recently renovated Pauley Pavilion, home to UCLA basketball and other athletic teams, was at one point blanketed in eight inches of water," the Daily Beast reported

The rupture during California's historic drought is a reminder that water infrastructure in Los Angeles could use a major overhaul. 

"The trunk line break offered dramatic new evidence of Los Angeles' crumbling water infrastructure, which has been a recurring problem for years. Large sections of the water system are old and corroded, and the city has struggled to find the money to replace them," the Times reported. 

An EPA survey of water infrastructure demands released last year ranked California as the neediest state in the nation. 

"California could use $44.5 billion to fix aging water systems over the next two decades, according to a federal survey that placed the state at the top of a national list of water infrastructure needs," the Los Angeles Times reported in an earlier piece. 

Image credit: "UCLA," cidalia_11 © 2007, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic  license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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