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Analysis Shows Lower Water Consumption Led To Burst Water Pipes In L.A. (Updated)

(Updated throughout): So L.A.'s water mains were bursting with fair regularity last summer, and the first thing that came to just about everyone's mind was that the subterranean water pipes were over-pressurized as a result of water conservation.

But in its usual, slower-than-MacGruber-diffuses-a-bomb fashion, the city resisted such a conclusion and went on a long, methodical analysis of the situation, finally receiving an independent analysis today that concludes, yes, water conservation did put more water in the pipes, which then burst. Genius.

The analysis showed that the city's mandatory conservation program, which a limit of two days a week for lawn sprinklers, likely contributed to the bursting pipes and water mains.

Jean-Pierre Bardet, chairman of USC's Civil and Environmental Department, lead a team of researchers that concluded only allowing sprinklers for a few hours on Mondays and Thursdays helped cause the 101 water main breaks reported from July through September -- double the usual number of breaks for summer.

Bardet said maximum pressure didn't change, but minimum pressure did, creating a stressful ebb and flow. He recommended that the city create a sprinkler system of odds and evens, with residents who live at odd-numbered addresses taking two days and those who live at even-numbered addresses taking a different two days. Brilliant.

Of course, last summer the Department of Water and Power denied there was a spike in water-main breaks, even though we all saw it with our own eyes. A main-break-caused sinkhole even famously swallowed a city fire truck. A DWP spokeswoman told us in September, the month the fire rig was swallowed and another main sent a river of water down Coldwater Canyon, that, "we're running normal."

You know what's really normal? The city taking until nearly until the next summer to figure out the obvious. (Well, heck, it wasn't really the city that figured this out. It was USC. The jury's still out on the cause, the DWP states. " ... Our investigation found the data on the effects of outdoor water restrictions to be inconclusive,'' DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo said).

-With reporting from Weekly wire services. Got news? Email us.


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