Valley water pipes: could the flooding at UCLA happen here?

Valley water pipes: could the flooding at UCLA happen here?

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. - The water main break near UCLA gushed thousands of gallons per minute. Up to 10 million gallons lost in just over three hours, the equivalent of more than 15 Olympic-size swimming pools.

"For us that would be about 50 to 55 homes' water use for a year lost in a couple hours time," said John Soulliere, administrative officer for the Mission Springs Water District.

Soulliere says the outdated infrastructure in Los Angeles isn't a concern here in the valley.

"Most of us are using the most current technology to monitor leaks and where these things are occuring so we can monitor the quality of those lines," he said.

He told us the oldest pipelines in his district are less than 50 years old, and inspected on a consistent basis.

"We identify every leak and where it happens so we know the condition of our pipelines," Soulliere said.

Advanced computer software keeps a record of every water leak in the district. When several happen on the same pipeline, the district knows there's deterioration and goes in to fix it before a major break.
The software can even pinpoint exactly where water needs to be shut off.

"Everything in green is all the residential properties that would be affected by these two locations, which would be two valves that would need to be shut down if there was a leak anywhere along this pipeline," Soulliere said, demonstrating the technology.

The Desert Water Agency tells us it also has an aggressive water main replacement program to avoid ruptures that could cause the kind of water loss experienced near UCLA.
Workers installed the largest pipeline along Ramon Road in 1981.  Since then - no leaks.
Soulliere says even with consistent maintenance, sometimes accidents can still happen, without warning.

"From time to time these things happen. The age of the pipe has something to do with it, but that doesn't mean there was a failure in maintenance. Sometimes these things just go," he said.

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