Water main rupture creates massive sinkhole in SF

December 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Millions of gallons of water flooded the streets of San Francisco after a water main ruptured Saturday night. The flooding created a massive sink hole and crews continued to struggle with the clean-up Sunday night.

Officials say the sinkhole is about 20 feet wide and eight feet deep. Officials estimate that 2 million gallons of water poured out of the main Saturday.

The broken water main is 100 years old. There have been recent seismic upgrades to other pipes in the area, but not to this one. The damage had utility crews working around the clock, but it could take another day to repair the massive sinkhole created by the gushing waters.

San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission offered some advice for motorists Sunday.

"So, just basically avoid the 10th and Division area in the meantime," said spokesman Tyrone Jue.

The broken main forced the closure of Brannan Street between 9th and 10th, part of a major intersection in the South of Market and Potrero neighborhoods. Fortunately, entrances to the nearby freeway will not be affected.

The 16-inch main is a major artery for water in the city, which is why so much came gushing out when it burst Saturday night.

"The thing to remember, we have about 1,200 miles of water main within the city and while we've done a lot of work with our rebuild to seismically upgrade it, you know you're not going to hit every single pipe and you're going to have failures like this occasionally unfortunately," Jue explained Sunday.

The failure flooded some local businesses and brought a theater production to a halt.

"We were about halfway through our first act here at our theater and suddenly we started hearing a strange noise like somebody had opened up a faucet," actor Ti Buswell told ABC7.

It also left a muddy mess in an antique furniture store.

"I took the sandbags and put them by our door and it didn't do no good," said tenant James Toczyl. "It was coming in through the foundation and all the walls."

It also went into the storage room of the Mountain West Ski Shop. Their back parking lot was covered in mud. Consequently, their bottom line for the day was "stuck in the mud."

"Yeah, we're going to be talking to them for sure to see if we can get some type compensation for this," said store employee Cecil Martinez.

Expect lane closures on westbound Brannan Street between 9th and 10th on Monday.


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