Burst Pipes & Life Without Water

As a city-dweller, or even in my former life as a suburbanite, I didn’t think too much about drought. In my memory, the worst thing that drought ever mean was taking shorter showers and having my parents water the front lawn less. I had never experienced a faucet that wouldn’t return clean, potable water. (I realize in writing this that I’m part of a lucky minority of this world that can say these things.)


Clean, cool water from Lake Tahoe – taken summer 2013.

Until moving to my apartment in the Tenderloin.

Wednesday morning: the first time that I ever turned water out of a kitchen sink, made and drank a cup of coffee… and then looked at my glass kettle sitting on the stove and realized that the water was an sickly, unnatural shade of yellow.

I felt queasy – more from the anticipation of some kind of poisoning due to contaminated water more than anything. I then proceeded to rush off to work and forgot about the whole incident until about 8 hours later, when I was reminded of the situation.

“What if I drank contaminated water?” The thought flashed through my mind, but it was already 8 hours later; most reactions to drinking contaminated water would happen more quickly than that, seems to be the common consensus.

Nothing happened, so I guess the water was okay.

I texted one of my neighbors, who lives on the same floor as I do, to see what her situation was. She reported that black water had come out of her faucets.

I called in the day after to the property management company to see what was going on. Apparently, some emergency where a pipe had burst happened.

Were residents informed? No.

In the age of email, text and other types of communication, at what point does a company have an obligation to communicate to its tenants (consumers) the potentially danger problems it is having?

Luckily, I have a network of family and friends in the area, so if I have to avoid sleeping at my apartment in order to be able to access water, I can easily do so. But, not everyone has this ability, and at this point, I don’t even know how long it will be until everything is back to normal.

As a new resident to the Tenderloin – the party of the city that I once shied away from and thought that I would never live in, I’m starting to see a different side of life.



Jen Burstedt

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