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New Water Main Could End Ban on Construction

September 01, 1985|GEORGE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

HAWTHORNE — Southern California Water Co. has promised to install a new water main in an eight-block area where a building moratorium has been imposed because of fire-safety concerns.

The city's fire chief, however, said he will wait for specific word that construction will start before lifting the building ban.

"As soon as we have a specific milestone for starting construction, we would be satisfied," Fire Chief Ralph Hardin said last week.

On Aug. 12, Hardin began refusing to approve building permits, saying that the area's water system, while substandard but adequate for existing development, would become dangerously below standards if real estate development proceeded unchecked. Hardin said a sudden developer interest in the area required that he stop the building there.

In the moratorium area, bounded by El Segundo Boulevard, Yukon Avenue, Doty Avenue and railroad tracks owned by the Southern Pacific Transportation Co., existing zoning permits 1,000 units in an eight-block area, more than triple the current density.

To bring additional water to the interior of the eight-block region, Southern California Water Co. promised in a letter to city officials Aug. 23 to put in an eight-inch main along 126th Street, which divides the rectangular area roughly in half.

Existing pipes within the area's interior are four-inch cast-iron mains laid 30 to 40 years ago when the area was first developed. Hardin said corrosion and encrustation have reduced the effective diameter of the old pipes to two inches and cut the flow by three-fourths.

He said Southern California Water plans would provide a substantial improvement in water flow. The proposed path "is sort of in the middle" of the area and would allow firefighters to reach any building there. Hydrants connected to the new main would probably have a flow of about 2,000 gallons a minute, comparable to the flow elsewhere in the city.

"The 126th Street main makes a very substantial difference," he said, but he added: "It is not a total solution. The total solution is new mains on all the streets. Ultimately, that final phase will have to be addressed." City officials are drafting long-range plans for the area and others where water flow is substandard.

Southern California's senior vice president, Roscoe Anthony, said last week that construction would begin in 1 1/2 to 2 months. Completion, however, appears to have slipped slightly from the schedule contained in the company's letter to Hawthorne officials.

The company promised in the letter that the new main would be completed within 90 days. Anthony said last week that company officials now are reviewing possible alterations of the plans sent to Hawthorne and that completion of the improvements would take place by the end of 1985--as much as a month later than the original estimate.

Costs could be as much as $50,000, but property owners in the area will not pay any special fee, Anthony said. The company will finance the new main by delaying a project planned for another area, "so there will be no increase in the capital budget," he said. Anthony declined to say what area would be affected by the delay.

Erlando San Miguel, who helps rate Southern California cities for residential insurance rates, said the problem in the area would not affect homeowner insurance rates because they are determined on a citywide basis.

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