Video Update: UCLA’s Recovery From Water Main Break

Kevin J. Borg UCLA
Kevin J. Borg

On July 29, 2014, a city of Los Angeles water main ruptured under Sunset Boulevard, opening a large hole in the pavement that closed the street during rush hour and flooded parts of UCLA’s north campus. Water flow through the 93-year-old, 36″ steel pipe was estimated at more than 60,000 gallons per minute, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). In total, an estimated 20 million gallons of water inundated the campus.

When the water began flowing on campus, crews stacked sand bags in front of the north end of Pauley Pavilion (home of UCLA basketball, renovated in 2012) and closed off flooded areas. Water poured down stairwells into the parking structures and got inside the John Wooden Center, which houses recreation facilities; the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses athletic staff and administration offices and UCLA’s Athletic Hall of Fame; and Acosta Athletic Training Center.

Shortly after the disaster, Facility Executive (then TFM) spoke with Kevin J. Borg, Assistant Athletic Director, Facilities and Project Management, UCLA Intercollegiate Athletics Department, about how he and his team reacted to the emergency.

“Once I saw what was happening, I went to the front of the Hall of Fame to see where the water was running, and we took action,” said Borg. “We grabbed as many towels as we could from our equipment room. We took conference tables we have that are the same depth and width as a 6′ door, and propped the legs open against doors. Each table worked as a dam. We did that in the front of the Hall of Fame, which helped mitigate 12″… 14″… maybe 18” of water from coming in. Every single employee on-site was squeegeeing, brooming, sweeping, bucketing the water out of the Hall of Fame.

“From there, I left a crew in charge and went down to Acosta and waded through about 3′ of water to get down there,” he continued. “We had a crew there also sealing up doors as best as possible. We had just finished removing a lot of soil from our football field, and we used that in front of doors to create a dam. This stopped a lot of the seepage into buildings. Meanwhile, we had concrete pavers on pallets nearby from a project we just completed; these measure 12″x 60″x4″. We stood those on end, and they became water diverters. These were impromptu decisions; we used the resources we had available.”

Nearly a year after the flood, all impacted facilities are back in operation. Borg shared this video documenting the event and cleanup process with Facility Executive: