Update: UCLA Facilities Deal With Aftermath Of Water Main Break

From the UCLA Newsroom and the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water 

A city of Los Angeles water main ruptured under Sunset Boulevard on 7/29/14, opening a large hole in the pavement that closed the street during rush hour and flooded parts of UCLA’s north campus.

The 93-year-old steel pipe broke at 3:39 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). Water flow through the pipe was estimated at 75,000 gallons per minute at the peak. An estimated eight to 10 million gallons of water flowed toward the campus or into storm drains.

UCLA Flood

Photo: Christelle Nahas/UCLA

UCLA’s intramural field, North Athletic Field and Drake Stadium — where a new blue and gold track was recently installed — were quickly inundated. Water spilled into underground parking structures 4 and 7, partly submerging dozens of vehicles, and pooled in Bruin Plaza.

Campus officials were especially concerned about standing water on the floor of Pauley Pavilion, UCLA’s iconic arena. “Unfortunately, Pauley Pavilion took quite a bit of water,” Chancellor Gene Block said at an evening news conference aired live on Los Angeles television. “It’s painful.” Officials said that damage to Pauley Pavilion, the adjacent John Wooden Center, and the parking structures would be assessed immediately. The building underwent a significant renovation in 2012.

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said later in a statement, “we are still gathering information and, to the extent possible, assessing the damage to our athletic facilities affected by the water main break. Regarding specific inquiries and concerns about Pauley Pavilion, most people are aware by now that the floor and locker rooms sustained significant flooding. The water will be removed from the floor tonight. We will then reassess the situation…and be able to provide additional information at the appropriate time.”

No one was reported injured during the incident. Los Angeles Fire Chief James Featherstone said that 160 firefighters responded to campus, searched more than 200 vehicles and helped five people to safety. Operations at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center were not affected. 

The campus will open as scheduled. “Buildings and operations related to our academic enterprise, residence halls, and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center have been unaffected,” Block said in a message to the campus community.

The 30″ main that broke carries water under high pressure from the city’s Stone Canyon Reservoir in the mountains above UCLA. When the water began flowing on campus, crews stacked sand bags in front of the north end of Pauley Pavilion and closed off flooded areas. Water poured down stairwells into the parking structures amd got inside the Wooden Center, which houses recreation facilities, and the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses athletic staff and administration offices and UCLA’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Authorities quickly restricted access to parking structures 4 and 7, forcing commuters to find alternative transport off campus. UCLA has set up a system for those who may have vehicles stranded in the parking structures.

The city Department of Water and Power began gradually shutting off the water around 5 p.m. Officials said that turning off the water had to be done slowly to prevent additional pipe ruptures. Sunset Boulevard was closed between Hilgard Avenue and Veteran Avenue

Three emergency response vendors have been contracted: one for Pauley Pavilion, which re-opened in October 2012 after a $136 million renovation, one for the Morgan Center and one for the Wooden Center. The contractors will be pumping out water and bringing in dehumidifiers and fans, said Leroy Cisneros, director of maintenance and alterations for facilities management. 


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