Since January 2018 the city of San Diego has paid $2.35 million in damages from broken water mains.
The payouts will continue, as on Tuesday city crews rushed to fix two major water pipe breaks, one in Bay Park that forced 234 people to go without water and another which flooded homes and streets in North Park.
The data, obtained by NBC 7 Investigates through a public records request reveals San Diego’s fight to plug a growing hole in infrastructure repairs.
According to the data, the payouts were made to settle claims and lawsuits that were filed for water main breaks that occurred over the past four years.
Of those claims, the costliest for taxpayers occurred on July 30, 2017, in Little Italy. On that day, a water main break flooded nearby businesses and residential properties resulting in payouts exceeding $1 million.
The next two largest payouts happened in North Park.
The first came in 2017 when a large water pipe burst near the North Park Community Center. The data shows the city paid $427,028 in property damage.
The following year, just a few streets away a water main ruptured on Idaho Street, flooding nearby homes. So far, the city has paid $241,646 to settle claims and lawsuits to residents whose homes and property were damaged.
North Park homeowner Erin Hatch first heard what sounded like rapids.
“All of a sudden we heard water rushing outside our bedroom window like it was a river,” said Hatch, remembering the October 2018 flood. “When I went to the back of the house there was about three feet of water in my backyard. The damages in my basement were pretty considerable. All of my possessions down there were submerged.”
Hatch told NBC 7 that cleaning up from the flood was just the beginning. He waited more than 6 months for the city to settle his claim.
“I think it’s sad the city is so reactionary in how they repair these lines,” said Hatch. “I anticipate that it will happen again if it has happened already three times it will probably happen again a fourth time. At least this time I am more prepared.”