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Busted San Diego Water Pipe Installed When Taft Was President

A broken water line near Oak Park shuts down a major road. Another water main break clogs traffic in Point Loma. A busted pipe in the East Village backs up freeway commuters coming into downtown. That’s three big breaks in less than a week.

Aired 2/21/13 on KPBS News.

Another day, another water main break that closes a busy San Diego street. So why do the pipes keep busting?

City crews work on a sinkhole that opened after a water main break on Shawnee Road in Clairemont on December 27, 2011.
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Above: City crews work on a sinkhole that opened after a water main break on Shawnee Road in Clairemont on December 27, 2011.

Todd Gloria, Twitter

A 102-year-old water pipe.

City Councilman Mark Kersey, who’s heading up the newly-formed Infrastructure Committee, said the majority of breaks occur in cast iron pipes that make up less than 10 percent of the city’s roughly 3,200 miles of water mains. And Kersey said those pipes, like the one that broke in the East Village, are really old.

"The water main that broke today is over 100 years old. It was installed when William Howard Taft was president," he said. "And it’s, quite frankly, just in need of being replaced."

Kersey said his committee will talk with the Public Utilities Department on Monday to determine how older cast iron pipes are prioritized for replacement.

Kersey has come up with a five-year plan to tackle San Diego's infrastructure backlog, which he pegs at more than $1 billion worth of work.

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