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Possible leak opens 200-foot-long rift, puts Lake County homes at risk

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 7:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 7:33 p.m.

Several Lakeport homes came under threat of landslide over the weekend, after a 200-foot long crack opened up in the earth and damaged multiple homes.

Lake County officials received emergency approval Tuesday from the Board of Supervisors to hire a geotechnical firm to determine the source of the problem, county deputy administrator Jan Coppinger said.

Fears the damage may be from a cracked or broken water main caused the county to start a leak detection survey on Monday. The results of the survey are expected to be released today.

Lake County Administrator Kevin Ingram cited two likely sources for a leak. One is a public water line and the second is a small irrigation line owned by the Lakeside Heights Homeowners Association, he said.

Three homes were red-tagged over the weekend after suffering severe structural damage, including one home that was pulled off of its foundation. All three homes are within Lakeside Heights, a neighborhood near Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

Ingram said the Community Development Department tagged one single-family dwelling, along with portions of a duplex and a fourplex.

Aside from the red-tagged houses, an additional 29 homes in the subdivision may also be in danger, Coppinger said. The neighborhood's water, sewage and storm drain systems are also threatened.

The "sizable" crack is approximately 200 feet long and is as wide as 10 feet in some places, Coppinger said. It stretches beneath several homes and empty lots in the neighborhood.

County staff discovered the first signs of ground movement during an unrelated inspection earlier in the month, and alerted Community Development on Thursday after damage began to surface.

Due to a damaged sewer pipe, the county set up an emergency temporary bypass system to pump sewage from the community.

Coppinger said the county contracted RGH Geotechnical Consultants of Santa Rosa to investigate the issue, and they began work Tuesday.

"They're very aware of the severity of it and are starting immediately," said Ingram. "We'll be monitoring the whole situation very carefully."

You can reach Staff Writer Melody Karpinski at 521-5205 or melody.karpinski@pressdemocrat.com.

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