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Santa Rosa water line busts, creates sinkhole

  • A city water line burst open in northern Santa Rosa, damaging the street on Brompton Avenue and creating a small sinkhole. (photo: Santa Rosa Fire Battalion Chief Mark Basque)

A city water line burst open in northwest Santa Rosa on Tuesday afternoon, damaging a residential street and creating a small sinkhole. Public Works officials said the break wasn’t caused by Sunday’s magnitude-6.0 earthquake centered in Napa County, but the failure of corroded bolts securing a valve on the water main.

Multiple callers dialed 911 around noon Tuesday to say there was a pipe poking out of the street pavement with water flooding onto Brompton Avenue near Mikayla Drive.

Water was turned off to 10 homes for about two hours while workers fixed the break, Utilities Systems Supervisor Greg D’Ambrogi said. He estimated that 60,000 gallons of water were lost. The valve that broke was installed when the subdivision was developed in 1993 and should have lasted for at least 50 years, he said.

“It happens,” he said. “You get defective parts and you don’t know it until after the fact.”

The leaking water caused the asphalt to bulge and created a small depression. D’Ambrogi said there were no fears of a larger sinkhole opening since the ground under the street is dense clay and not the water-soluble rock associated with large sinkholes.

Crews fixed the valve and were patching up the road Tuesday afternoon. D’Ambrogi said contractors would come out later this week to repave about a 100-foot section of Brompton Avenue.

Debbie Lorenzana, whose house is in front of the leak, said she was about to take a shower when she learned that the water had been shut off. She said the spill was ironic since she was keeping her lawn brown during the drought and even has a sign in her front yard that says: “Water Conservation: Doing our part.”

“We can’t catch a break,” she said. “I just hope this doesn’t come out of my water bill.”


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