SPECIAL SERIES : RAINFALL CLOSES SCHOOL
Officials Monitor Exposed Waterlines
Pipes could burst with more land erosion and pressure
February 25, 2004 2:54 PM
Heavy rain this morning caused a landslide just off 19th Avenue at the back of Hensill Hall. The saturated ground caused a steep hill to collapse leaving two exposed water mains with little natural support.
The sidewalk along 19th Avenue was temporarily closed while engineers evaluated the stability of the ground. They concluded the land is stable but will require surveillance as more storms are on the horizon and could bring more rain at any time.
In the event more erosion takes place the waterlines could lose support and break, which would flood the campus, SF State’s Director of Environmental Health and Occupational Safety Robert Shearer said. He and engineers are observing the situation and formulating a plan to add support to the water lines.
Shearer said they would not be able to add additional support until the land around the pipes dries and becomes stable enough on which to work. Possible solutions Shearer sees for creating support include putting metal sleeves around the pipes to add strength or bringing large boulders to stabilize the hill.
One water main is a 24-inch fully charged domestic water pipe supplying water for drinking and fire hydrants to the campus and the surrounding community, Shearer said. He believes the other is a sewage pipe.
The water main is the primary concern because it is much larger than the other pipe and it is more likely to burst without support. The high volume of water moving through that pipe puts a lot of pressure on it, Shearer said.
In the event of the water main breaking, the water will be shut off but not before a significant amount of water washes through campus. Although there is an emergency plan, the line breaking and the water shutting off could not be simultaneous and significant flooding could occur, Shearer said.
SF State's Plant Operations along with SF State's Department of Environmental Health and Occupational Safety are taking responsibility for fixing the problem because it is state property, which means the City and County of San Francisco and PG&E are not responsible for providing a solution.
“The more we can handle our own emergencies the better we are,” Shearer said. But added that they will get support from PG&E and other agencies if they need it.
If the water main breaks while school is in session an emergency plan will take affect. The campus has a safety committee that will notify building safety dispatchers of the specific emergency and give instructions to ensure the safety of those on campus, Shearer said.
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