Not long after the 3:51 a.m. earthquake on Saturday morning, which was centered in Berkeley, a couple of water mains broke in the urban East Bay. Caused by the earthquake, or coincidence? East Bay Municipal District workers at both sites said it was just old cast iron pipe, but the timing suggested that ground movement might have been a factor in the breaks.
A water main break on La Loma Avenue in Berkeley cut off water to a number of Berkeley Hills households on Saturday a little after 4 a.m. The break was on the east side of the long 1300 block of La Loma, somewhat uphill from the steep curve above Shasta Road. EBMUD staff on the scene said it appeared to be a six inch line that had broken. They were preparing to replace it with a plastic sleeve in order to restore service; the pit they dug to find the break was was as deep as a standing man. Reaching the break was complicated by the challenge of digging through the concrete, rather than asphalt, street paving.
In Point Richmond, the break caused a sinkhole to form, tilting the cherished railroad “Wig Wag” sign. An observer on the scene by about 8 a.m. said that by that time water had already filled gutters all around the site. No prediction as yet about how long it will take to repair the damage to sunken streets…
(Tom Butt contributed to this story.)