CVWD to replace deteriorated Cook Street sewer pipe, expect traffic delays

The Coachella Valley Water District will replace 1,000 feet of pipe in November

PALM DESERT, Calif. - The sinkhole that swallowed part of a car on Cook Street in Palm Desert in August is still there. Some neighbors and business owners say they haven't seen any progress on repairing it, other than a mound of dirt that's filled it up.

The sinkhole, 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep, was created by a sewage leak. The Coachella Valley Water District said Monday it's not ignoring the sinkhole, but rather working on a proper solution.

The current pipe, installed in 2007, was expected to last 50 to 75 years. It didn't. 

"This is very unique for a pipe that is so young to deteriorate the way it did," said Heather Engel, spokesperson for Coachella Valley Water District. "We really decided to take a time out and do a thorough investigation of the sewer line."

Experts are now evaluating three and a half miles of sewer line with video tests and then a radar test starting Thursday to see how thin the pipeline is after years of corrosion.

In November, the CVWD will remove 1,000 feet of pipeline they know needs replacement. The solution is expected to top more than $1 million.

"What it looks like is if acid were to be corroding down the sides of the pipe. There are clumps of pipe in the waterline," said Engel.

Meanwhile, the hole remains slowing down traffic along Cook Street.

"It makes traffic for trucks and companies trying to deliver very congested and out of control," said Erwin Villanueva, co-owner of Alkobar mini-mart and deli.
"We're happy to say that no ones sewer service has been affected. We just have to do what we have to get it fixed and people don't have to worry about another sinkhole," said Engel.

Two lanes on Cook Street will remain closed between Sheryl and Hovley Lane, as well as the Northbound bike lane.

Starting Thursday, there will be lane closures at Hovley Lane East near Portola. And on Hovley Lane West near Monterey for several weeks. It will give crews the chance to perform a radar test on the line.

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