What is causing water mains to break? Old pipes, city official says


SAN DIEGO — While workers were out for a second straight day cleaning up from two major water main breaks that flooded parts of San Diego, new questions are being raised about the city’s pipes.

The breaks happened within hours of each other Sunday, causing flooding and road closures in the East Village and by Balboa Park.

“It’s possible they are related,” said Arian Collins, public information officer for the City of San Diego. “We don’t know that at this point, it could’ve been a coincidence, but we’ll know more as we investigate over the next few days.”

The rupturing of a cast iron pipe is not a coincidence, according to engineers. City officials say they have been attempting to replace every last cast iron pipe as fast as they can to prevent the inevitable crumbling of the now antiquated water system.

“Since 2013, we’ve had a program where we’ve been replacing cast iron water mains throughout the city,” Collins said. “We’ve replaced about 218 miles and we’ve got fewer than 20 miles to go, and we hope to have all of them replaced by the year 2025.”

The City of San Diego said just ten years ago, they could see as many as 150 water main breaks in a single year. But despite the spectacular visuals of the latest rupture, the breaks are down to only 33 a year since they have replaced the majority of the decades-old cast iron pipes, according to city water officials.

“We’re never going to see pipes that will never break ever again, but we are going to see fewer as the cast iron is removed and replaced,” Collins said.

Three lanes on northbound Interstate 5 have since reopened after a portion of the freeway was closed because of severe flooding brought on by the water main break.

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