UCLA flooding is latest black eye for L.A.'s aging water system

The water main break that flooded parts of the UCLA campus Tuesday marks the latest in a series of problems for Los Angeles’ aging water delivery system.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said the pipe involved was installed in 1921.

Some 7,200 miles of pipe -- moving about 600 million gallons of water each day -- run beneath the city’s streets. Much of the infrastructure dates from the 1920s and the years just after World War II, two periods when housing construction boomed.


In 2009, the problem got attention because of a series of breaks. In one case, a burst line damaged businesses along Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. In another, a firetruck was swallowed by a leak that caused a San Fernando Valley street to give way.

The city is in the midst of a multiyear, $4-billion upgrade of the water system, part of which involves replacing and fixing aging pipes.

As of 2009, the city reported that about 1,400 pipes failed each year.

Earlier this month, the Department of Water and Power provided the following information when responding to a Times request for information about another water main break:

“We typically experience an average of 3 – 4 leaks and pipe breaks each day and we respond as quickly as possible to minimize water loss and restore service.”