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UCLA flood: Mayor Garcetti blames poorly engineered pipe joint

Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses the media outside Council Chamber.
Alice Walton/KPCC
Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters Monday that a poorly engineered joint from the 1950s was to blame for last week's water main burst and subsequent flood of UCLA.

A poorly engineered joint installed back in the 1950s may be to blame for last week's water main burst and the subsequent flooding of UCLA, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday. 

When a joint between two water pipes burst under Sunset Boulevard last Tuesday, it sent a 30-foot geyser into the air and poured 20 million gallons of water onto the UCLA campus and nearby streets. The mayor, who was on vacation last week, addressed the flood in a wide-ranging City Hall press conference. 

"This wasn’t a pipe that broke, by the way, it was a joint. A poorly engineered joint from the ‘50s, even though the original pipe was from the ‘20s," Garcetti said. 

Senior DWP officials are expected to elaborate on that point at Tuesday's Water and Power Commission meeting.

The mayor acknowledged that it's unlikely this will be the city's last water main break. The DWP has a 300-year replacement cycle for its water pipes, many of which were installed 100 years ago. However, Garcetti said he will not pursue water rate increases before June 30, 2015. 

"I will always take on the tough things. I will tell people when we need to, but right now we need to have trust in a department that frankly people still don’t," he said. 

Last week, members of the Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion that asks the DWP to report back on their water infrastructure program. Part of that motion also calls for utility officials to consider other ways to pay for the repairs.