Residents await cause of water main break


Friday's water main break was a geyser with water shooting 60 feet into the air. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission says it lost 1 million gallons of water, maybe 2 million. And, it was more than three hours before workers shut off the torrent and in that time, at least a half dozen homes were damaged and a dozen cars flooded.

Ken Cattaneo got home from his Thanksgiving weekend Sunday night and found two of his cars flooded.

"Oh yeah, very nice," he said. "So, we'll see what they do, if they're going to take care of anything."

The San Francisco PUC is promising to work with residents to pay their claims. Carl Brogger has had to move out of his house.

"The pipe failed in the joint. Actually, it's over there," he explained laughingly.

The pipe is brand new, installed about a month ago, right next to Brogger's home. The bolts that held the pipe together were laid out next to the hole when ABC7 arrived at the scene Monday morning, but after workers saw ABC7's camera, they put a tarp over the pipe. Brogger says there was a lot of arguing about that pipe when it was installed.

"Just, 'You got to do it this way,' 'You got to do it that way,' and 'No no, we're going to it do this way,'" Brogger recalled. "I could hear it right here. They were here forever," he said laughing, admitting he thought it was kind of unusual at the time.

However, sources inside Ranger Pipeline told ABC7 the big pipe that burst was not the first pipe that broke, and the SF PUC admits the first leak was much smaller. An official with South San Francisco, who was not authorized to speak on-camera, confirmed that older pipes inside a meter vault were also damaged and that if the smaller older pipes burst and washed away the dirt around the new pipe, it could cause the new joint to fail.

A spokesman for the SF PUC called that a plausible explanation for what happened, but was not ready to sign off on it Monday. He said it would be three or four days before they know more about what happened and before they are ready to talk about it publicly.

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