Roads open in Studio City

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

A broken water main flooded Coldwater Canyon Avenue at Mulholland Drive early this morning, temporarily cutting off two key Studio City arteries and sending water and debris gushing across rocker Eddie Van Halen’s yard, officials said.

Mulholland Drive reopened to traffic about 8:45 a.m. and Coldwater Canyon reopened at 2 p.m., according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Water and Power.

As workers cleared the roadways ahead of the afternoon commute, Van Halen faced a daunting clean-up on his property, where mud and debris flowed 300 feet down a steep incline, filling the swimming pool but stopping short of the home.

The guitarist who started his eponymous rock band with his brother Alex in the 1970s, returned home from a Canadian tour stop and found a muddy swamp where his pool used to be.

“You’re tired, you’re beat up, you come back to find your backyard completely wasted,” said his publicist and girlfriend, Janie Liszewski.

Liszewski, who lives in the Studio City home with Van Halen, said firefighters broke the news by phone before sunrise when the group was still on tour in Edmonton, Canada. The brothers, together with Van Halen’s son Wolfgang, reunited this year with original singer David Lee Roth. The group is scheduled to play a show Friday at Staples Center.

Liszewski said Van Halen’s reaction when he saw the muddy goop covering the backyard, was “Where’s the pool?”

“The pool, I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s non-existent. It’s mud,” she said, adding that her potted plants and trees were also demolished. Still, she said, if not for the firefighters placing sandbags to protect the house from mud and debris, “it could have been a lot worse.”

Van Halen’s residence was the only one affected by the rupture.

The problem started when an air valve on a 26-inch water main broke before 1 a.m. this morning, shutting down Coldwater Canyon Avenue between Ventura Boulevard and Mulholland Drive and blocking Mulholland from Coldwater Canyon to Benedict Canyon Drive. (Earlier today a Fire Department spokesman incorrectly gave the size of the pipe as 8 inches) At one point, water pouring from the break ran all the way to Ventura Boulevard, about two miles away.

Department of Water and Power workers fixed the break by 7:30 a.m. and water was flowing normally again, DWP spokeswoman Terry Schneider said. Soil erosion from recent heavy rains was a possible reason for the valve failure, Schneider said.