Is Santa Monica due for a water main break?

Sep 04 , 2014
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Los Angeles is facing an epidemic. Lately, it seems like water main breaks are disrupting one neighborhood after another. This summer, UCLA was hit hard by a major underground break, while in a separate incident, homes and businesses in Echo Park were flooded. Final damage costs are estimated to be extremely high, and the amount of water loss is devastating during California’s drought.

All of the city-wide destruction begs the question, Is Santa Monica next? Many of L.A.’s neighborhood’s copper pipes are old and corroded, and our Pacific-adjacent town is no exception. In fact, some estimate that Santa Monica’s pipes are among the oldest in the city. Their breaking is inevitable.

Are you prepared for a flood? Here are a few tips to deal with a burst water main.


When a main breaks, gallons of water come rushing up to the surface, driven by intense pressure. Needless to say, you don’t want to be around when this happens. The most important thing to keep in mind is safety. Whether you’re shopping on Third Street Promenade or playing skiball on the Santa Monica Pier, stop what you’re doing and evacuate to a safe place that’s untouched by the flood. If you’re in your car, don’t try to drive out of it. If possible, wait for authorities to help.

Notify authorities

Finding a safe place of refuge might be difficult. Keep in mind that water main breaks affect scores of people and businesses and everyone’s trying to evacuate at once. For example, a major thoroughfare like Santa Monica Boulevard may be totally jammed. Be patient. As long as you’re out of harm’s way, you’ll get to your destination eventually.

In the meantime, call the authorities. Whether it’s the police, the fire department, or even the best plumber Santa Monica has to offer (plumbers can do so much more than repair faucets and drains), make sure people who are equipped to handle emergencies get notified as soon as possible.

Boil water

Once the neighborhood’s water distribution system is disrupted, you need to be careful about your drinking water. Filtered, clean water will be mixed with who-knows-what kind of contaminants. The best case scenario is that your home’s plumbing picks up harmless debris. But even then it may taste funny and have texture (texture and water just shouldn’t ever go together). The worst case is that you’ve absorbed harmful toxins. Either way, in the event of a main break, make sure you boil water before drinking or using it at home.

Clean fixtures

Even after your neighborhood has been cleared for water safety, it’s a good idea to be cautious. When turning on faucets and showers, let the water run for a couple minutes to ensure any remaining debris goes down the drain. If you really want to go the extra mile, remove and clean your faucet screens. (If you’re just not comfortable at home yet, maybe it’s a good time to treat yourself to a stay-cation at, say, The Viceroy Hotel… as long as the water’s clean).



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