City out millions in water main break damages

Posted at 8:37 AM, Dec 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-05 11:37:51-05

Water main breaks are a fact of life in any major city, but this year has been particularly costly for San Diego's taxpayers. 

The City Council on Tuesday may authorize an additional $4.5 million in damage claims stemming from three large water main breaks in 2017 - in Little Italy, Morena, and La Jolla. That's on top of the $4 million already budgeted for this year. 

"The water was about 24 inches high throughout the whole space," said Joey Vaiasuso, who runs an artists co-op in Little Italy that got flooded July 30. "Lost art, lost a lot of sentimental pieces, machinery. It was horrible. 

Vaiasuso says the city fixed the drywall, and is rebuilding practically everything. That water main break in Little Italy accounted for the biggest chunk of the city's proposed increase. The city says it has $2.8 million in damage claims from that instance. 

A Sept. 14 break on Morena Boulevard caused $600,000 in damage, and one on Camino de la Costa in La Jolla did $400,000. The City Council could approve amending the contract with Luth and Turley Inc., which handles the repairs, to account for that amount. 

City spokesman Arian Collins said the city is working toward replacing its older cast-iron infrastructure. The small mains should be all replaced by 2019, and the larger by 2023.

Vaiasuso says he never thought of a water main break as a threat to his space in 15 years.

Now, he regrets not having flood insurance. He says that's because the city is reimbursing him for the value of his items damaged, but not the actual cost to replace them. An insurance plan may have covered those items.