SAN DIEGO – Gallon after gallon, water spewed from the city’s pipes at Balboa Park, closing the Cabrillo Bridge.
The water main break lasted about 10 hours, beginning around 6:15 a.m. Sunday at the intersection of Balboa Drive and El Prado.
Nearby residents didn’t lose water, but water pressure was extremely low in many area, keeping water fountains from working throughout the park at times.
San Diego resident David Lundin said the break is the pipe’s way of telling the city to pay attention.
“It’s screaming at us saying, ‘Fix me! Fix me! Fix me!’” he said.
Public Utilities Department spokesman Arian Collins said a corroded air valve was to blame.
“An air valve broke on a 36” transmission line, so we had a lot of water coming out of the Cabrillo bridge,” Collins said.
Crews worked hours on end, first trying to shut off the water, then replacing the air valve that is more than 60 years old with one made of better material, designed to last longer.
Despite their efforts to work quickly, parts of Balboa Park were closed off to tourists for hours and finding parking was difficult for the many drivers following detour signs. Lundin said this is not the impression visitors should get when visiting America’s Finest City.
“This is not Sea World. This is not the zoo. This is not a beautiful beach. This is an old broken pipe the city hasn’t taken care of,” Lundin said.
Tourists we spoke with were disappointed the bridge was covered with water. An 8-year-old child had hoped to visit the park’s famed gardens.
“He enjoys flowers and wants to buy as many as possible but we can’t get there we can’t find parking so hopefully we will be able to carry them,” his mother Megan Jagiello-Wielczyk said.
As tourists like her walked around the blocked off areas, crews continued working at the corner of Balboa Drive and El Prado. It was just before 5 p.m. that the last road block sign was moved and crews packing into a truck to pull away.
But the fix didn’t drain every worry for San Diegans.
“The park is about to celebrate its 100th birthday next year. Can you imagine if you have 200,000 people in the park for celebration day and this happens?” Lundin asked.
The amount of water lost due to the main break was not disclosed Sunday.