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Water restored, but issues continue after water main break

Water has been restored in the East Village on Tuesday, two days after a 76-year-old cast-iron pipe failed in the East Village, flooding the area and leaving thousands without water.

While the street has been repaired and the water is back on, people who live and work in the area are still dealing with the consequences.

Sharita Ballinger and thousands who live in nine addresses in the East Village are under a "boil water" order.

"I take care of my uncle and he’s elderly so it’s difficult having to do extra things on top of what you need to do on a daily basis," said Ballinger, adding that the little savings people have is now going to buy meals and water.

WATER MAIN BREAK 04.jpg
Matthew Bowler
Repair crews work to fix a broken water main in downtown San Diego at the corner of 11th and A, November 22, 2021.

Residents have to boil water to eat and drink and sanitize items like dishes. And handwashing means dipping them in a diluted bleach solution and letting them air dry, without rinsing them again.

Mrs. Parker is an East Village resident who thought she was doing everything right until she realized she was rinsing the dishes after the bleach solution.

"Well I guess with that being said I have to go back and redo my dishes," she said with a laugh.

Arian Collins, the supervising public information officer with the city of San Diego, said he understands the frustration.

"We know it’s a huge inconvenience for everyone," he said.

He asked for patience because lifting the order is a process.

"We need to have two negative tests in a row and it takes 24 hours before we can have a second test," Collins said. "If they both come back negative, then we take the information to the state and if they give us the all-clear we can lift the boil water notice."

There were two breaks on Sunday. CalTrans is still working to fix the one on state Route 163 and Interstate 5.

Collins said the pipes that are causing the most problems are aging cast-iron mains, such as the one at 11th Avenue and A Street. But he said they’re slowly being phased out.

"Since 2013 we’ve replaced about 218 miles of cast iron and there’s fewer than 20 miles left to go and we’ll have those replaced by 2025," he said.

Whatever the reason, Arthur Burges who was out buying last-minute items for his Thanksgiving feast hopes the water is back to normal so his holiday doesn't have to be rescheduled.

"Oh that’s going to be bad," he said. "Yeah, I'll have to wait and do it Saturday or whenever the boil-water is over."