Vallejo water main break fosters fire department cooperation

- A water main break late Friday morning in Vallejo had all the initial earmarks of a mini-disaster that could have affected thousands of residents and businesses. One could not help but notice a major reason it turned out to be a highly effective exercise in civic cooperation.

At about 11:00 a.m., a twelve inch, cast iron water main broke near the corner of Redwood Street and Sonoma Avenue, in one of the oldest parts of town. Immediately, people in the area noticed very low water pressure and others had none. 

City Water Department crews had to isolate the break by shutting off some valves and opening up others to reroute the water. Vallejo officials said around 3:30 p.m. twater service was restored to nearly all affected 

"They initially had to shut down a slightly larger area than anticipated and that was the cause for additional outages. As they narrowed it down to the actual valve, we restored water to what we believe is most, if not all customers," said Vallejo Public Information Officer Will Morat.

Two years ago, another huge water main break caused a wide spread outage for a long period of time. The Vallejo Fire Department officials are worried that insufficient water pressure in the pipelines to the hydrants could render them ineffective.

Friday we saw an example of mutual aid at its best. Right next to the fire station closest to the break: five other fire departments have sent big tenders. So, just in case there is a fire, they can supply the water if the hydrant system cannot.

"As soon as fire realized that there was even a temporary problem, the call for mutual aid came in," said Mr. Morat.

The water tanker tenders came from Vacaville, Cordelia, Crokett/Carquinez, American Canyon as well as Travis Air Force Base, complete with crews to haul as much water as needed to any fire scene. 

"Until we could confirm that we're back up and we had no issues, we'll keep them on and we'd do the same for other jurisdictions if they need our help," said Morat.

Some of that help came in the form of making sure a regional telecommunications building, reliant on water to prevent equipment from overheating, had an ample standby supply.

The city hopes to have the water main repaired by mid evening. 

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