San Diego

Large Main Break Sends Floods of Water Through North Park

A water pipe break sent water gushing from a large sinkhole in North Park Thursday, flooding homes, cars and a community park for hours before being shut off.

SkyRanger 7 captured footage of water pouring out of the large hole on Idaho Street near North Park Community Park at about 8 a.m. Cars could be seen in about a few feet of water and much of the park was flooded. 

The flooding was caused by a broken 24-inch transmission water main line, the city of San Diego said. While the main break affected several residents in the area, the city said no one was without water service.

Traffic was being diverted around the large area affected by the break as crews with bulldozers dug up the roadway in order to get to the affected pipe. Repairs were expected to last into the night. 

SDPD said the flooding was first reported at about 7 a.m. and the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department was called. 

North Park resident David Koechlein said the city was not quick enough to respond. Water flowed for hours into his home, leaving about two feet of water in his front yard and garage.

"This is the second time this has happened to me where a water main break comes through and wipes out everything that I’ve done thus far to get this property up and going," Koechlein said.

This is the second water main break in the area surrounding North Park Community Park in the past two years. In January 2017, a 30-inch pipe broke near the intersection of Polk and Oregon streets.

The pipes in both cases were made of cast iron and were likely installed some 60 or 70 years ago.

Koechlein and his neighbor, Sam Ernaji, said the city has an infrastructure problem that they don't see being solved.

Both their homes have been flooded twice due to main breaks nearby. 

"We obviously have an infrastructure problem and there doesn’t seem to be anybody paying attention to it," Koechlein said. "The city’s got to do something, either investing in the infrastructure or figure out where the money is going. Because I’m paying my taxes, I don’t know where it’s going?"

Ernaji agreed. 

"I really hope they come out to North Park and explain to us what went wrong again and what the real plan is to fix it this time, because this is ridiculous."

Most homeowner and renter's insurance policies don't cover flooding that originates outside of the home, so residents affected Thursday, like their neighbors affected in 2017, have to file claims with the city.

After last year's incident, some residents were forced out of their homes for nearly five months as renovation crews replaced their drywall, floors and cabinets -- all of it a taxpayers' expense.

The city's Risk Management Department told NBC 7 it paid out $4.5 million in claims, repairs and reimbursements and faced two lawsuits after the 2017 main break.

According to city employees, early indications suggest a cheaper price tag for Thursday's break.

A city water department spokesperson said all cast iron water pipes are scheduled for replacement in the next few years, but there is no word if the affected area in North Park will be moved to the top of the fix it list.

Crews were still on site installing a new transmission line and filling in a sinkhole around 11:30 p.m.

There was no estimate for when repairs are supposed to be completed.

No other information was available.

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