The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has revealed plans to replace about four miles of water pipe along Sunset Boulevard over the next four years and explained what caused a break in a water main on Sunset on Sept. 26 that closed part of that busy thoroughfare for several days.
The information was provided by Steven Cole, manager of engineering in the LADWP’s Water Distribution Division, in an email to Elyse Eisenberg, chair of the West Hollywood Heights Neighborhood Association, who had raised questions as to whether the water main break was influenced by the large Sunset La Cienega construction project nearby.
“The investigation that we conducted on the piece of pipe that was recovered from the incident on Sunset in West Hollywood concluded that it was due to corrosion on the pipe,” Cole wrote in the email message that Eisenberg shared with WEHOville and members of her neighborhood association. “The pipe in question is a roughly 100-year-old riveted steel pipe. When one of the rivets goes, it will usually zipper open, popping out other rivets. This tends to make a larger leak than a welded steel pipe or ductile iron pipe. Fortunately the pipeline in this portion of Sunset Blvd. is at a relatively low pressure, and resulted in less water loss. The break on Sunset near UCLA was under high pressure which resulted in the release of a greater amount of water (28 million gallons at UCLA vs. 2 million gallons at WeHo).
“I mentioned to you (in a telephone conversation) that we are planning on replacing a large portion of this pipeline (over 20,000 feet or roughly 4 miles) in Sunset Blvd. The portion that we plan on replacing in the next few years runs from Fairfax Avenue to the City of Beverly Hills. We have had some leaks on this pipe in the past, and our Asset Management Group had identified it for replacement. We are still analyzing the best way to do that including looking at alternate routes in the near proximity.
“As we discussed, there will be traffic impacts when this work occurs in the future. The good part about this is that the work is scheduled as opposed to a sudden, unexpected blowout, so at least local residents and businesses will know what to expect.
“I also mentioned that we do evaluate connections made by new developments to see the impact on our ability to provide service. The majority of the water supply allocated for serving a high rise is for fire flow. That is typically what we are looking at to determine sizing of service laterals, our pipe network, and water storage facilities.”
Eisenberg thanked Cole for sharing the information. “The explanation below and the LADWP’s repair plans going forward is very informative. No doubt everyone will be relieved to hear that the Sunset Blvd pipe replacement work from Fairfax to Beverly Hills is in the process of being scheduled over the next few years.
“While it appears that given the age of the pipes there is no guarantee a situation like this won’t occur again, Hopefully the repairs will happen sooner than any future ruptures. It is a relief to hear the water loss was only a fraction of the damage that occurred at UCLA.
“Everyone no doubt appreciates the fast response of the LADWP, together with West Hollywood’s Public Works Department, to bring the damage under control and return Sunset to normal within a reasonable amount of time.”