The Law of Unintended Consequences in Action

The city of Los Angeles has been plagued lately by a rash of broken water mains that have sent water gushing along the surface, flooding a number of homes and causing widespread damage. Predictably, this has inspired a rash of claims against the city by the affected homeowners who are demanding compensation for the damage to their property and the loss of their personal effects.┬áSo far, no inverse condemnation actions have been filed — at least the Los Angeles Times mentions none.

The claimants are angry over what they say are the city’s delaying tactics, and the city explains that some of the claims appear exorbitant, so it needs time to check them out. The Los Angeles Times, tells us all about it in Jessica Garrison, Broken Pipe Talks Stall, L.A. Times, April 22, 2010, at p AA1.

But buried in the Times story is this gem:

“Officials also learned last week that a team of outside engineers and scientists had concluded that the city’s own lawn-watering restrictions may have been a prime factor in causing last year’s rash of blowouts by creating excessive pressure fluctuations in aging pipes.”

So there you have it folks — preservation policies may have costs associated with them, including unanticipated costs. Do-gooderism can turn out to be expensive. No one to the best of our knowledge has done the number-crunching on this one, but it’s possible that the amount of water lost in all those pipe ruptures exceeds the amount of water saved by following those lawn-watering restrictions. Do you suppose?

For the full story about those engineering reports go to,0,7323987.story

For the full story on the claims against the city, see David Zahniser and Jessica Garrison, Lawn Watering Rules Contributed to L.A. Main Breaks, Experts Say, L.A. Times, April 14, 2010. Go to,0,1273813.story

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