Friday, November 27 , 2015, 3:11 pm | Fair 62º

Water-Main Break Creates Mess, Disrupts Service

Cold weather may be to blame for failure that left some customers without water, officials say

A backhoe breaks up the pavement at Milpas and Cota streets on Santa Barbara’s Eastside Monday to reach a broken water main.
A backhoe breaks up the pavement at Milpas and Cota streets on Santa Barbara’s Eastside Monday to reach a broken water main.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol | updated logo 11:50 a.m. |

Scroll to the bottom to see video from the scene.

A water-main break — possibly caused by the cold weather — created a muddy mess on Santa Barbara’s Eastside Monday, leaving some customers without water service.

City Public Works officials were notified shortly after 10 a.m. of the break at Milpas and Cota streets, and responding crews found a big mess at the intersection, said Cathy Taylor, water systems manager for the city.

Northbound traffic was being rerouted on the 500 and 600 blocks of Milpas, she said, adding that an unknown number of businesses and residences in the area were without water.

By late morning, the water flow was shut off, and crews were using heavy equipment to tear up the pavement and reach the damaged line for repairs.

“It’s probably the weather, to be honest with you,” Taylor said when asked the cause of the break. “We see a spike in main breaks in cold weather.”

Some areas of Santa Barbara recorded lows in the 20s Sunday night into Monday.

After the break, the city received numerous reports of dirty water from its customers, and crews were systematically opening fire hydrants to flush the lines, Taylor said.

That process was expected to last about two hours.

“When a pipe breaks, we usually get dirty water in the system,” senior water operator Anthony Trejo said.

Trejo and other Public Works water resource employees were on scene to find the main’s break and repair it.

A Sempra Energy employee was also present. No gas lines were damaged in the water main break or flooding, but he came to make sure water resource crews knew where the gas lines were located while they made their repairs.

The city hopes to have the water line repaired and service restored to all customers “later this afternoon,” Taylor said.

Nearby schools haven’t had their water shut off, but have reported dirty water, according to the Santa Barbara Unified School District. Facilities and Operations Director David Hetyonk is contacting Santa Barbara Junior High School and others to tell them to flush out their drinking fountains so they have usable water.

The district administration building also has rusty water in its pipes, communications director Barbara Keyani said.

Anyone with questions or problems regarding their water service can call the city at 805.564.5413.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli contributed to this report.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Milpas Street Water Main Break Causes Mess, Water Shutoffs from Giana Magnoli on Vimeo.

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