Rain has abated, but Berkeley is beset by water problems!

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A water main broke on Grant Street on March 18, 2016. Photo: Norrie White

The rain may have abated for a while, but that doesn’t mean Berkeley isn’t experiencing some serious water issues.

A water-main break at Grant Street, between Delaware and Francisco, caused streets to be flooded Friday morning. Berkeleyside was first alerted to the news at around 11 a.m. by Isobel White on Twitter who pointed us to photos taken by her daughter, Norrie White, of the surging water. White then reported that both EBMUD and BFD were on scene: “I think they turned off main but still flowing,” she said as of about 11:40 a.m. This was followed by the comment that the water was “destroying the street.”

Tracie Morales, a spokeswoman for EBMUD, confirmed to Berkeleyside at around 1:40 p.m. that a water-main broke at 1734 Grant St.

“We have crews repairing a main break on a 12-inch cast-iron pipe,” Morales said. A total of 28 customers are out of service in the areas of Grant and Virginia streets, and EBMUD estimates repairing the break will take “a few hours,” she said.


Morales said Berkeley Fire Department was the first to respond to the incident, and was on scene at 10:50 a.m. to shut down the water. By 11:01 a.m., an EBMUD investigator had arrived to conduct an investigation and to call out a crew to make repairs.

A water main today broke on Grant between Francisco and Delaware. Photo: Isobel White
A water main broke on Grant Street on March 18, 2016. Photo: Norrie White

The pipe that broke dates back to 1933, Morales said, making it 83-years’ old. The average age of cast-iron pipes in Berkeley is 78-years’ old, she said.

“Cast-iron pipes are the most vulnerable due to their age,” she added.

Morales also confirmed that the streets had been damaged by the flooding water, with evidence of “asphalt buckling.”

The exact cause of the breakage is unknown, but Morales said it could be a number of things: a pipe corroding, soil movement or ground movement. “Pipes break all the time and for a number of reasons,” she said. “The system is old. We see main breaks every day.”


One local resident reported hearing on the scanner that firefighters “pumped out thousands.” From the context, he assumed authorities meant they pumped out thousands of gallons of water from flooded basement(s) in the area.

Morales said if customers have suffered damage as a result of the main break they should contact EBMUD’s risk assessment office at 510-287-0124.

A water main today broke on Grant between Francisco and Delaware. Photo: Isobel White
A water main broke on Grant between Francisco and Delaware. Photo: Norrie White

At around 12:30 some Berkeleyans were hearing a helicopter overhead. It was not clear whether a TV station had become aware of the incident and was checking it out.

In addition, Thursday night saw a geyser erupt at Russell and Stanton streets due to a broken fire hydrant (see dramatic photos below). Berkeleyside contributing photographer David Yee told us he heard on the police scanner that a vehicle ran into a fire hydrant and drove off. Homes on Dohr Street were reportedly flooded.

This story was updated after Berkeleyside spoke to EBMUD to gather information.


A water main today broke on Grant between Francisco and Delaware. Photo: Heidi Sachs
A water main on Grant between Francisco and Delaware. Photo: Heidi Sachs
Damage to the street after water main break. Photo Isobel White
Damage, including buckled asphalt, to the street after water main break. Photo: Isobel White
And this was last night at Russell and Stanton, as shared with us by Kester Allen. David Yee tells us he heard on the police scanner that a vehicle ran into a fire hydrant and drove off. Homes on Dohr were reportedly beginning to get flooded. Photo: Don Santos
A broken fire hydrant at Russell and Stanton, as shared with us by Kester Allen. Photo: Don Santos
And this was last night at Russell and Stanton, as shared with us by Kester Allen. David Yee tells us he heard on the police scanner that a vehicle ran into a fire hydrant and drove off. Homes on Dohr were reportedly beginning to get flooded. Photo: Don Santos
A broken fire hydrant at Russell and Stanton, as shared with us by Kester Allen. Photo: Don Santos

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