[OUR BREAD AND BUTTER] Water Pipes to Be Replaced Throughout City

Repair and replacement of old water pipes by the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power can cause traffic slowdowns.

Repair and replacement of old water pipes by the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power can cause traffic slowdowns.

Slowdowns on some Los Angeles streets may be a sign that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has sped up the process of replacing deteriorated pipes.

In the last year, LADWP replaced more than 32 miles of underground pipes surpassing the 2015-16 goal by 20,000 feet.

The water main replacements are critical because they produce a dramatic reduction in leaks—enabling more water conservation and fewer service disruptions.

LADWP was able to outdo this year’s water main replacement goal in large part because of a rate increase package approved earlier this year.

“The increase allows us to spend $2 billion over the next 10 years with much going to replacing pipeline and targeting infrastructure throughout the city,” said Jesus Gonzalez of LADWP’s water distribution division.

It’s an all out effort to stay ahead of the city’s aging infrastructure. LADWP serves 167 billion gallons of water per year to 681,000 service connections.

The city’s leak rate and total water loss are better than the industry average nationwide, but some pipes are hitting the 100-year plus range.

In recent years, news video showing water main breaks dumping thousands of gallons into the streets have been a disheartening visual reminder of what can happen if pipes aren’t replaced.

“Every drop counts when we’re in drought conditions, and L.A. can’t afford to let rotting pipes and bursting water mains get in the way of conservation,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a recent press conference.

Not all old water mains are created equal. Only some old mains are considered “questionable,” meaning they need urgent attention.

Among other factors, replacements are prioritized by leak history and age. Basically, the older the neighborhood, the higher the likelihood that area is on LADWP’s to do list.

As one of the older parts of the city with pipe almost 90 years old, the Larchmont area is scheduled for pipe replacement next spring in May or June, with a completion date expected October 2017.

“For the most part, our crews can replace [pipe] from one block to the next in a month’s time,” said LADWP’s Jesus Gonzalez.

On larger streets, such as the current work in Silver Lake at Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue, traffic may be slow while one or two lanes are shut down.

All efforts are made to plan work during the lowest impact hours, with 9 a.m. start times, and workers and equipment off the streets by 3 p.m.

And because LADWP uses durable ductile iron pipe that will last 100 years, crews aren’t expected to return anytime soon once the job is done.

For updates and notices in your area, visit ladwpnews.com

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