20 Million Gallons: UCLA Officials Assess Damage of Water Main Break

By Sarah Le, Epoch Times

LOS ANGELES—On Wednesday afternoon, officials were beginning to assess the damage of 30-inch water main break next to UCLA that gushed 20 million gallons of water on Tuesday. The water created a sinkhole in the street and flooded several buildings on the north side of the campus. No one was injured.

UCLA campus crews and emergency contractors worked overnight to pump water out of buildings and clear debris from affected areas. Powerful fans were installed to begin drying out structures such as the John Wooden Center for recreation and the historic Pauley Pavilion, home to UCLA basketball team the Bruins.

The sports arena was under construction for two years before opening at the end of 2012, and cost the school about $136 million to renovate. Now campus officials say, it will need new flooring. 

“In some cases, in some of the buildings, there’s less damage than we anticipated,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “But we still have to let everything dry out to really determine it.”

However, three to four feet of water remained in the top levels of two, two-story underground parking structures, with the bottom floors still completely submerged. Leaking carbon monoxide from portable generators in the structures barred people from entering.

Over 900 students, faculty, staff and visitors reported that their vehicles were in one of the structures. Officials estimate less than half of the cars had water actually enter the vehicle.

Vice Chancellor Kelly Schmader said contractors were pumping water out of the structures at 4,000 gallons a minute.

“We think that maybe by the end of the week, end of the day Friday, we’ll probably have the water completely out of the garage and be able to start moving some of these vehicles out of here,” he said.

Campus officials said it was unclear where all the money for repairs was going to come from.

The water main carried water under high pressure from the city’s Stone Canyon Reservoir in the mountains above UCLA. The pipe was 93 years old, raising concerns about Los Angeles’ aging infrastructure. Small amounts of water continue to flow from the sinkhole, but not enough to cause problems.

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