Pacific Palisades’ Asilomar Bluffs Residents Get Water From Hydrants

By Sarah Stockman
Staff Writer

In addition to endangering homes and lives, a landslide that extends from the Asilomar Bluffs down to the ocean has also led to water issues for the residents of five homes between Wynola and Almar on Asilomar Boulevard.

In 2011, the L.A. Department of Water and Power determined that the ground below Asilomar was too unstable for underground pipes and so they switched the residents to above-ground water pipes attached to fire hydrants.

“Due to the documented ground movement in that stretch of the road, the most safe and reliable manner to supply these homes would be through an above-ground pipe,” wrote Joseph Ramallo, LADWP assistant general manager, communications, marketing and community affairs, in an email to the News.

Some Asilomar residents receive their city water from pipes along the street that are connected to City fire hydrants. Photo: Matthew Stockman

Some Asilomar residents receive their city water from pipes along the street that are connected to city fire hydrants.
Photo: Matthew Stockman

Janice Olds, who has lived on Asilomar since 1978, thought this water system was only temporary, but six years later it has not been replaced. She does not understand why the water line is above ground while the gas and sewer lines remain below ground.

“To me, a gas line in a landslide area is more concerning,” Olds said. “But they have no hesitation putting that [below ground].”

Neighbor Bernd Lunkewitz, who moved to Asilomar three years ago, said he was aware of the above-ground water pipes when he purchased his property but was told they were provisional.

“I was told it is a preliminary surface line that would be replaced by a regular line,” Lunkewitz told the News.

He added that the geological instability of the Asilomar slide does not actually affect him and his neighbors. “All geological reports state that there is no danger of landslides further up the street. My house and those of my neighbors are not endangered by the landslide activities.”

Olds said that there are water leaks all the time from the above-ground pipe, including some that result in large amounts of water washing over the side of the canyon.

“We never had a problem until they put the water lines above ground,” Olds said. Lunkewitz said that every time someone pulls their car in or out of their driveway they have to drive over the pipe, leading to weakening and leaks.

“Lately, this happens every two to three months,” he said.

Ramallo said the DWP did repairs two weeks ago to make the pipe more secure. “[We] took measures in the new pipe installation to mitigate potential damage from cars driving over the pipes.”

Another problem, Olds and Lunkewitz pointed out, is that the water coming out of their taps is brown.

Cars running over water pipes in the street have cracked the pipes, causing numerous geysers along the Asilomar Boulevard. Photo: Matthew Stockman

Cars running over water pipes in the street have cracked the pipes, causing numerous geysers along the Asilomar Boulevard. Photo: Matthew Stockman

The DWP is aware of this and had a Water Quality Division inspector collect samples from the area on June 20.

“The results of this testing indicate the water in this area is safe to drink,” Ramallo said. “[However], the color and clarity of the samples tested well below the State of California’s secondary drinking water standards for aesthetics.”

According to Lunkewitz, the test was not accurate since it was performed on a day when the water was relatively clean.

There were days when someone in the area used the hydrants for water supply for a construction site. Then the color and debris gets much worse,” said Lunkewitz, who has to filter his water.

“I got a new [filter] early last December but it was completely clogged by February. Normally such a filter should be good enough for a year.”

I feel like we’re being bullied here,” Olds noted, adding,“Would [Mayor Eric] Garcetti like his water coming from the hydrant?”

Ramallo said that as soon as the Bureau of Engineering completes its work, “The LADWP will plan, design and construct the appropriate underground piping and remove the current above-ground piping.”

According to a recent proposal by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, the slide will not be stabilized until 2021 at the earliest.

In the meantime, Ramallo says that residents can try flushing the line to remove the sediment that’s causing the brown color of the water. If the problem persists, he asks that residents call the LADWP’s Water Quality Hotline at (213) 367-3182.

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