LADWP pipe breaks hit national news

UCLA FloodingThe Los Angeles Department of Water and Power water main breaks that happen weekly have now made national news. CBS Sunday Morning News interviewed DWP’s Marty Adams, head of water operations, about 5200 water pipe leaks in Los Angeles since 2010.

The CBS reporter, Carter Evans, said LA’s pipes are getting some “very poor grades.” Recently a broken water pipe flooded LA’s famous Sunset Blvd with 20 million gallons of water. The geyser on Sunset served as a reminder that LA’s aging water system is in need of upgrades.

Asked by CBS how old the oldest pipe in LA is, Mr. Adams said, “We have pipes over 100 years old in service here. DWP maintains more than 1200 miles of pipe throughout the City. The agency assigns a letter grade to each pipe in the system. Adams said a number of pipes are getting older, “And, now,” he said, “We have a good amount of pipe – about 400 miles of pipe – that is in the D to F range.”

According to an analysis by the LA Times, about 6% of City pipe earned a D or an F, meaning they are most likely to burst and cause major property damage. More than 40% receive a grade of C or lower. Dr. Lucio Soibelman of the USC School of Engineering said around 20% of net worth is more than 100 years old. “Those pipes have an expected life cycle of 100 years old. 20% of the networth is vulnerable.” He called it a problem and said that the City is spending nearly $100 million a year to address it, but that may not buy enough time.

Now, there is a little over a 300-year replacement cycle. Is that acceptable? Adams thinks it’s “more than we want it to be, although the track record of LA is better than most. But it’s not where we feel comfortable being.”

As the United States looks at infrastructure rebuilding, it’s definitely not where people want the system to be, and the loss of water does not match where southern California wants its water to sit after three drought years.

13 Responses to LADWP pipe breaks hit national news

  1. Trouble November 15, 2014 at 12:23 am #

    I’m kind of hoping L.A. gets pissed off at DWP for not maintaining their system and run them off. Who knows, maybe one day will have a black President?

  2. earl duran November 14, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    Does anyone have any information about the Solar Project near Olancha?

    • Benett Kessler November 14, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

      A letter to the editor is about to go up on this. BK

  3. Trouble November 11, 2014 at 7:15 am #

    Riddle me this Batman- How do you get 300 years behind in a 100 years?

    • FriendlyNeighborhoodCivilEngineer November 12, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      They’re not 300 years behind; DWP’s main replacement program is currently on track to replace everything in a 300 year time span. As noted, most pipes have a 100 year expected lifespan, but they’re being replaced 3 times slower than they’d prefer.

      • Trouble November 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

        Friendly- even I take myself with a gran of salt! When it comes to DWP I really don’t like one thing about then anyway!

        • Charles O. Jones November 14, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

          Serious question:
          What do you think the OV and Eastern Sierra would look like if all the DWP lands were privately owned?

          As much as I may disagree with the DWP’s actions from time to time, they have indirectly protected the Eastside from over development with their land holdings. I can’t help but appreciate that.

          • Benett Kessler November 14, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

            After 40 years of watching no growth because of DWP land ownership, it’s obvious that some planning and meaningful release of lands would make sense and would provide the vitality that our poor towns need – especially southern Inyo. Vital services rely on people – customers, patients – a market place. All of that should have started 40 years ago. It didn’t, and now Inyo does not have LA over a barrel like it did when the CEQA suit took place and the long term agreement was being negotiated. Back then, people did not care enough to look for and demand good answers for a real, long-term agreement that would have given us a healthy and happy future. Benett Kessler

          • Wayne Deja November 15, 2014 at 8:21 am #

            Charles O.Jones and Benett….My guess would be more private land ownership would have meant lots of growth and lots more people up here….I lived in Lancaster between 1962 and 1991 and saw it happen down there on a huge scale…and continues to this day…Maybe I’m selfish saying it,but I’m not in the tourist industry up here,and at my age now, kinda like it just the way it is…When I moved to LP in 2000,the population sign I think said 2,048 people……now down to 2,035…..

          • Ken Warner November 15, 2014 at 11:02 am #

            Grow or die. Sustainable Economy. Benefit to the Community! Development — jobs — prosperity!!

            How does all that fit in with “Save the Earth”; “Preserve the Owens Valley” “Oh My Viewshed”.

            I agree with Charles. The DWP has saved us from the temptations of greed and stupidity.

  4. Philip Anaya November 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    Not a pretty picture. 1200 miles of pipe to maintain. 400 miles of D-F. Isn’t that 33%, 1/3 of the infrastructure in need of replacement? Looks like more than a rate increase coming, Mark Looks like water bonds, State, Federal Dollars and traffic issues and economic consequences worse than anyone’s imagination. Another perfect example of the absence of stewardship and failed DWP Policy and Leadership.

    • Desert Tortoise November 13, 2014 at 9:12 am #

      DWP cannot increase rates without the consent of the LA City Council, which has denied rate increases in the past under pressure from the public. LA has about the least expensive utility rates in the state. It is a bargain being an LADWP customer and LA residents have long taken low water and power rates for granted, part and parcel of being an LA resident. The public has fought rate increases in the past. It will require an education process to coax LA residents and the City Council into accepting a rate increase to cover the cost of repairing the water infrastructure. LADWP on it’s own cannot set water rates.

  5. Mark November 10, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    I see a rate increase coming


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