Water main break on Sunset causes flooding & traffic disruption

As California suffers from its worst drought in recent history, and residents try to preserve water, a 93 year old water main nestled under Sunset Boulevard decided to rebel. The water main erupted shortly before 3:30 pm on Tuesday, spouting water 30 feet into the sky and releasing 8-10 million gallons of water over the stretch of Sunset Boulevard between Hilgard Avenue and Veteran Avenue, flooding a majority of the north end at UCLA Campus. The rupture created a 15-foot sinkhole that the Department Of Water And Power will have to fill after the main is repaired.

Although crew swiftly rushed to the scene, the water spout was not completely shut down until 7:00 P.M. last night. DWP was found having to defend themselves last night and today to explain why it took so long to turn off the water main. Officials said crews could not close them too quickly because doing so could cause additional ruptures in the area.

Drake Stadium, home to the UCLA Men and Women’s Track and Field Teams, situated on the north end of UCLA, was evacuated after about an hour and half of the water main break. Before that, students were seen wading in the knee deep water, taking selfies, one student sported floaties and an inflatable buoy around his waist as he splashed around in the makeshift lake that devoured the newly renovated track that was installed earlier this year.

Watching from atop the bleacher section of the stadium, stood UCLA students, Rachel Davidson and Sean Oswald. They embraced each other while overlooking the flooded track area with looks of shock and dismay. “"I was already on campus and started seeing a bunch of Facebook posts about the water main break, so I walked over to the stadium to take a look, its crazy", said Oswald.

Besides the damage to Drake Stadium, UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion also took a major hit. Water poured onto the basketball court and flooded locker rooms inside the center that recently underwent a $132 million dollar facelift. Crews, students and campus staff scurried to find ways to remove water away from the wooden basketball floor before it buckled completely. The parking structure immediately adjacent to the Pavilion, Structure 7, became so flooded that students who happened to be in the nearby vicinity were quick to hop on their cell phones to videotape and snap photos of the chaos to get it on social media. The surge of water completely filled the second level of the parking structure, to the point that it was no longer visible. Several people had to be rescued from the structure as their cars were completely submerged.

Parking Enforcement Specialist Rafael Salgado was on the UCLA campus today and had this to say about the flooding on campus: “When I arrived at work this morning, not only was Structure 7 red tagged for safety concerns, so was Structure 4 which is the central parking structure. Even though most of the water is now drained from both structures, 700 cars remain stranded that were caught in the flooding yesterday.”

Salgado also mentioned that the usual summer camp programs that are at UCLA daily, were cancelled today because of the clean up that is still taking place.

Street closures and detours in the vicinity of the water main break and the UCLA Campus will be ongoing for the remainder of the week and likely until DWP can repair the break and fill the sinkhole that caught Westwood by surprise.