A 90-year-old water main broke near the University of California, Los Angeles, on Tuesday, spilling 8 to 10 million gallons of water.
As The Los Angeles Times explains, officials are facing some tough questions this morning because it took them about four hours to figure out which valve needed to be closed. Meanwhile, water rushed into the campus, flooding many university buildings including the track and field facility and Pauley Pavilion, which just underwent a $136-million renovation. At one point, the Times reports, the pavilion was under eight inches of water.
But the surreal drama of it all was perhaps best captured by Instagram user tony_ker. The video he posted showed some stairs looking like waterfalls:
The AP reports when the 30-inch main burst, it sent water 30 feet into the air. The AP adds:
“The break came amid a historic drought when residents are now being threatened with $500 fines for overuse.
“‘We lost a lot of water, around 35,000 gallons a minute, which is not ideal in the worst drought in the city’s history,’ City Councilman Paul Koretz said. …
“Firefighters, some using inflatable boats, saved at least five people who were stranded in the structures where more than 100 cars were stuck, city fire officials said. No injuries were reported.”
The Los Angeles Times reports officials with the Department of Water and Power were stuck in rush hour traffic. After they got to the scene, Jim McDaniel, DWP’s senior assistant general manager, said they had to do research “to get to the correct valve.” The city, he said, did not want to close the wrong valve because it “would have left people without water.”