Photo: Jay Barmann/SFist

4:45 PM (BCN): Certain residences and businesses in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood were briefly affected today by a water main disruption, according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Customers on McAllister Street between Jones and Leavenworth streets lost their water for a couple hours after a water main was pulled from its fitting at about 1:15 p.m., PUC spokesman Tony Winnicker said.

The street remained closed to traffic for repairs this afternoon, but Winnicker said repairs should be finished later tonight.

Winnicker said loose pavement and a piece of the plate above the water main pulled it free, possibly because a car drove over the newly laid plate. This caused water and sand to spill up onto the street.

The water main is fixed, but the road is still being filled in where the sand came free, Winnicker said.

3:16 PM: Tony Winnicker, Director of Communications for the PUC, just let us know that service has been restored to the area effected by the break. He says that, other than that area between Market and Jones on McAllister, traffic has been restored.

He has a little more insight into what caused the break: a section of pavement supporting a metal utility plate crumbled, sending the plate onto the main and breaking it. And what caused the crumble? Eyewitness reports say a larger vehicle (bus or truck) turned the the corner by the plate rather quickly, knocked away the barricade (you can see said barricades in the picture above) protecting the plate from traffic, and drove over it. Winnicker surmised that the weight of this larger vehicle on a section supposedly protected from traffic could have caused the pavement crumble and subsequent damage.

At present, the PUC is working to shore up the damaged areas. Next up: replace the barricades and repave the area.

Final Update 1:40 PM: Tony Winnicker, Director of Communications for the PUC, just called us back. First, the good news: it’s not shit. A new connection (made just this morning) in a water main broke on McAllister (BCN notes the exact intersection as “Golden Gate and Jones”) and has flooded the street “for about a block.” He’s not sure why it broke, as yet, but noted that while the water (which, did we mention, is blessedly not sewage) does creep onto Market Street, traffic on Market is not expected to be disrupted. Winnicker says he expects the area to remain closed and impassable for “the next few hours” so think about that as you head home tonight.

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1:00 PM: SFist brings us this picture of some lovely brown water flooding Market Street at Jones. Why is this happening? What is it? Is there, indeed, crap in it?

We’d love to tell you, but after four calls to four different numbers at the Department of Public Works, all we’ve gotten is four voice mails. That is, assuming something they have oversight over is responsible. Who knows?

We’re gonna keep trying, and will keep you posted.

1:13 PM: Oh, OK. We got an answer at one of their numbers, but all she wanted to do is forward us the the PR people we’d already left messages with. Great. Maybe it’s a broken water main or something, let’s try the PUC.

1:18 PM: The “broken water main” number is just ringing and ringing. Could that be a sign?

1:20 PM: As is their press number. Hmm.

So, what do we know so far? Market and Jones is flooded, water is brown (never a good sign), and no one is answering their phones. You’ll know more when we do.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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