Engineer: Century-Old Pipes Bursting From Old Age Won't Survive Quake

You don't need to be a top-flight engineer to figure that a century-old water main that crumbled on its own over the weekend turning SoMa into a swamp would not have survived a strong earthquake. Chris Poland, however, is a top-flight engineer, and he confirmed it — the city's Taft administration water mains will not survive the Big One. In fact, much of our “lifeline” systems — water, sewers, roads, cables, etc. — won't make it. The good news is, the city is aware of this and is taking steps to combat the problem.

The bad news is, that won't mean much if the Big One were to come tomorrow.

“We'll have the new Hetch Hetchy water system to get the water to our reservoirs. There's good reliability there” in terms of a quake, said Poland, the CEO and chairman of Degenkolb Engineers in the city and a 35-year veteran of building design. “But getting water from the reservoirs to our homes so we can go on with our daily lives needs to be dealt with.”

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