That Sinking Feeling on Hillard in LCF

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK A sinkhole caused some consternation on Memorial Day weekend for residents on Hillard Avenue.
Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
A sinkhole caused some consternation on Memorial Day weekend for residents on Hillard Avenue.

Christina Bond felt it was a little dramatic even suggesting it, but she was right: That dip in the asphalt and the sound of rushing water were indications that a sinkhole was opening up in front of her home in the 4700 block of Hillard Avenue.
The sinkhole — which expanded to about 10 feet by 5 feet — appeared Sunday, May 28, after residents noticed they felt a dip as they drove along their street.
They also noticed water bubbling up from the cracks in the asphalt about 150 feet down the street on Saturday. La Cañada Irrigation District workers were called to the scene to investigate what seemed like a small problem.
“It looked like a typical service leak Saturday, and on Sunday it broke out more and the street started to sink,” said Doug Caister, general manager of La Cañada Irrigation.
He explained that a leaking water main was the culprit, and that the water line, buried about 3 feet below the street, is about 5 feet above a sewer trench that runs below it.
“Those sewer ditches, when they get water in them, they subside,” Caister said. “They’re not well compacted, so the ground sinks, and then, of course, the street sinks.”
Caister said his team found the leak Sunday, immediately repaired it and then cordoned off the “big hole in the ground” until a crew came to repair it on Tuesday. After clearing out the hole, workers refilled it with a mixture of dirt and a gravel and sand-based material that that is expected to prove especially sturdy, Caister said.
They also put down a temporary asphalt mix and have plans to permanently repair the street once the ground has settled, Caister said.
“It was truly a sinkhole,” Bond said. “It wasn’t like the ones you see on TV where cars are falling in, but who knows? Maybe someone could have?”
Said Caister: “It’s one of those things that happen. We’ve run into it in a couple of other places, where service leaks cause the ground to subside for reasons unbeknownst to us. I’m glad we got it before the whole street collapsed, because the longer the water runs, the more problematic it is.”

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