2014-12-11 / Front Page

Water main rupture leads to geyser in Thousand Oaks' Wildwood Park

Dramatic scene lasted for about an hour, according to water district official
By Anna Bitong

An official watches water spray into the air after a water main ruptured today in Wildwood Park.Courtesy Conejo Rec and Park DistrictAn official watches water spray into the air after a water main ruptured today in Wildwood Park.Courtesy Conejo Rec and Park District-- Story updated at 8:45 p.m Mon., Dec. 15

A crack in a section of pipeline running though Wildwood Regioinal Park sent water surging high into the air for at least an hour on Monday, causing damage to the park’s nature center and attracting the attention of residents for miles around.

The 39-inch-diameter potable water pipe constructed about 40 years ago failed around noon, said Eric Bergh, manager of resources at Calleguas Municipal Water District, which owns the pipeline. The leak, which sent an avalanche of water into the air, lasted until 1 p.m. when the water was shut off.

Residents and the fire department called to report the break and crews arrived at the site within minutes, Bergh said. 

“We’ve isolated that segment of pipe,” Bergh told the Thousand Oaks Acorn late Monday afternoon. “So the flow has been shut off to that area. We haven’t lost any service to any of the neighborhoods. We have pipelines elsewhere that are able to feed some of the neighborhoods that could’ve been affected. . . . From our perspective there isn’t any current water hazard due to that pipe.”

Some of the water did reach the park’s nature center and restrooms, pushing mud over the structures, said Jim Friedl, general manager of the Conejo Recreation and Park District. In his eight years with CRPD, Friedl said there has never been such a significant water line break on district property.

“They are basically being buried in mud,” Friedl said of the CRPD buildings. “We, the district, are going to definitely have some cleaning up and digging out to do once it has all been stabilized.”

It’s not yet clear exactly how much water was lost during the rupture. 

“The reality is the pipe wasn’t fully open,” Bergh said. “It was just a crack in the seams. It was so dramatic-looking because the pipe was under intense pressure. The volume of water, in the whole scheme of things, I don’t want to say it’s next to nothing, but it really is in terms of our daily demands. It’s not an extreme amount of water. It’s just the pressure that was impressive.”

The pipe, which passes through an anchor wall that keeps it in place, became separated from the wall, Bergh said.

“The suspicion is that maybe the soil in that area shifted with the rain because the pipe separated on the downstream side of one of the walls, right at the wall,” he said. “If you bend a paper towel roll and get a little separation at top, that’s what happened.”

The bigger challenge awaits.

“The big issue is going to be access (to the pipe) on a steep slope like that. It’s going to be trying for (repair crews),” Bergh said. “That steep slope is definitely of concern. You can bet folks are going to be eyeing the geology there, the soils given the recent rains.”

Because of the pipe’s location, the water district official estimates it will cost at least $1 million to fix.

“Generally speaking, when a similar pipe breaks, it’s in the million-dollar range (to fix), he said. “It will probably be more because it’s on a slope. That is going to make it extremely difficult for the contractor to mobilize and get access.”

To see footage of the rupture, go to http://on.fb.me/1svnFEE

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