UCLA’s water main break is bigger than we thought, but it won’t affect the basketball season

July 31, 2014

Firefighters inside Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)

The huge water main break that flooded the University of California Los Angeles campus on Tuesday was even bigger than it initially appeared. While the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had initially said about 8 to 10 million gallons poured out, it said on Wednesday that it now seems 20 million gallons were lost in the break. The number was doubled because it turns out two water lines “operating at high pressure” met at a juncture involved in the break, the department said.

What of the storied Pauley Pavilion, home to UCLA’s basketball teams, which took on a particularly high volume of water? The school says that about 8 to 10 inches were pooled on the building’s floor on Tuesday night, but that water was cleared by the following morning.

Water had reached the locker rooms and playing surface, but Bruins fans shouldn’t be worried about the team needing a home: Dan Guerrero, the school’s athletic director, said in a statement that the building was not “structurally compromised” and should be ready for the men’s and women’s basketball seasons in the fall. The water also only caused minimal damage to the football facilities, so once the clean-up is finished, everything should be fine for the upcoming football season, Guerrero said.

Crews hope to soon complete repairs on the broken water main that left a huge crater on Sunset Boulevard. (Reuters)

A more immediate concern: The hundreds of vehicles still trapped inside flooded parking structures. More than 900 such vehicles are trapped — half of them belonging to students, the other half belonging to UCLA staff or visitors — and they will be towed once all of the water is pumped out (which could be done by Friday, the school says).

Meanwhile, city officials are still working to repair the water main that broke in the first place. Repairs on Sunset Boulevard could take until Friday night or Saturday morning, so the road is expected to remain closed until that time, the water department said.

The break caused elected officials to debate what should be done about infrastructure in the Los Angeles region. The state of the area’s water mains had been discussed in a 2012 report issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which noted the age of these systems.

“An assessment of the condition of over 11,000 miles of water mains indicates that many of the County’s pipelines have reached the end of their useful life and require replacement,” noted the report on infrastructure in Los Angeles County.

In an interview earlier this month, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke about the importance of investing in the city’s infrastructure, describing it as a way to strengthen the city’s economy.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Sarah Larimer · July 31, 2014