A broken fire hydrant on Shattuck and Center on April 5. Photo: G.W. Schulz
A broken fire hydrant on Shattuck and Center on April 5. Photo: G.W. Schulz

A malfunctioning fire hydrant exploded at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday on Shattuck and Center causing a geyser-like jet of water to soar into the air (see above). The result was captured on video by Michael Corey.

This is the second broken fire hydrant in as many months. On March 31 a fire hydrant that had been repaired the previous day broke off at its base on Fulton Street near Durant. It spewed gallons of water into the air for about 20 minutes before the fire department turned it off.

In fact, spontaneous fountains are becoming quite common in Berkeley. In December 2010, a fire hydrant on Shattuck and Center (possibly the same one as yesterday?) produced an impressive jet. And another one was seen last July on Shattuck and Carleton after a truck collided with a hydrant.

Oh, what the heck, we just can’t resist. There follows a photo gallery of our city’s recent short-lived hydrant jets. And, impressive as they are, we can’t help wondering what is causing them — and we trust nobody gets hurt when these things take off.

An impromptu fountain at Shattuck and Center on December 13, 2010. Photo: Steve McConnell
On July 3, 2010 a truck collided with a fire hydrant at Shattuck and Carleton. Photo: Keoki Seu
A broken fire hydrant spews water on March 31 at Fulton and Durant. Photo: Alicia Abramson

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

Join the Conversation


  1. I do not agree that the Ecology Center support is wasteful, but the majority of the rest of your post resonates well.

  2. Thank you, Berkeleside, for providing a vibrant forum in which a real spectrum of opinion and real disagreement (which only a “Pravda” type news source would find “disagreeable”) are possible. The hegemony of one point of view and its longtime domination of local politics is profoundly unhealthy for a participatory democracy. We need an active, civic “opposition” and more (not less!) vocal dissident voices (however “disagreeable” to our aging oligarchy) in order to escape a de facto one party type tyranny.

    When was the last time an incumbent city councilmember was defeated for reelection in Berkeley? How rarely are incumbent school board members turned out of office. What chance do principled, civic activists like Zelda Bronstein or Laura Menard have to get elected to city offices? How many terms did Betty Olds or Maudelle Shirek serve while the quality of life in Berkeley was rapidly deteriorating (both of whom, by many accounts, often failed to even respond directly to basic constituent inquiries and complaints by return phone call or email)? Almost as long as Mubarak, Gaddafi or Strom Thurmond. Rubber stamp or sham “democracy” anyone?

    Meanwhile, tens of millions of dollars, mostly raised by bond measures laden with false promises and pledges, which Berkeley tax payers shelled out in good faith have been misappropriated to pay bloated city employee salaries and to subsidize wasteful special interest projects (like the Ecology Center) when it should have been directed to modernizing our sewer systems, regularly repaving our streets, and rebuilding or expanding schools and classrooms, community parks, play grounds and ball fields to benefit the quality of life of our children. All of this criminal malfeasance can only thrive when the public is either kept in the dark by a complicit press or itself fails to critically scrutinize the misappropriation of government funds. Until Berkeleyside’s appearance, we suffered from both maladies in abundance.

    If I can play a small role in facilitating a rapprochement between Berkeleyside and the BDP, I am glad to be the lightning rod:

    Links we like:
    Richard Brenneman: Eats, Shoots ‘n’ Leaves
    Jane Stillwater’s Web Log
    Time to add: https://berkeleyside-newspack.newspackstaging.com/?

  3. For years the City deferred maintenance until it could obtain Federal dollars to fix the streets, etc.
    The use of sewer taxes passed to upgrade the sewers by the City to pay it’s own EBMUD bills, shows how cavalierly our tax dollars are used.
    The Berkeley “Sewer Service” charge you pay on your EBMUD bill is is illegal, and was known to be so by the council when it passed the fee. You are being charged a “Sewer fee” when you water your garden.

    Of course all of this is approved by the majority of Berkeley citizens. How to get elected in Berkeley? Be an incumbent.

    So much for an informed electorate.
    We’re Berkeley, We’re different? Not so much as we like to think.

    Study your Pogo for the answer.

  4. You’re providing a very worthwhile service, as the above exchange shows. I for one appreciate it. Dealing with the disagreeable commenters is not something I’d enjoy doing myself, so thanks for taking it on.

  5. Can we please put the traditional but rather well worn “progressives” vs. “conservatives” stuff aside? Because:

    The most immediate problem is a collapse in the general economy, especially around the burst real estate bubble … leading to lost of City revenues from property taxes, sales taxes, transfer taxes, transfers from the state and from the federal government. Underlying this is a massive liability due to malfeasant pension fund management, a problem replicated in municipalities of all political bents.

    The real estate bubble reflects a deeper underlying problem of finance sector fraud that, you might have heard, has pretty much trashed the global economy. Some of its side effects include the gutting of US manufacturing capacity (a problem so serious that now the intel/military community is starting to cite it as a national security issue), the relentless elimination of the middle class, the complete neglect of public infrastructure, serious and getting-worse food inflation and fuel inflation. Loudmouths of any sort at a City Council meeting ain’t the major malfunction here.

    the ruling junta in Berkeley

    is really not the problem and the gratuitous rehearsing of decades old political theater is a distraction to the very real and urgent problems we face.

    I am totally behind you if you want to talk about infrastructure neglect, how to plan for food security in the coming years, and so on. I share the … hmm… maybe call it “nausea” about the state of civic affairs? But I think we (the whole community, not just you and me) are going to brick wall any hope of progress if everything has to be contorted into the decades old not-particularly-accurate framework of an oppressed common sense minority suffering under the thumb of an imagined progressive revolutionary tyranny. It was funny in 1978. Its pretty shop worn and beside the point now. Please?

  6. We created Berkeleyside to cover the news. It wasn’t to “boost the community
    with positive tales”. We’re happy to declare that we’re pro-Berkeley — we
    live here after all, and the only way we’ll prosper is if Berkeley prospers
    — but we’ve always reported the good and the bad.

  7. Collapsing infrastructure, cratered and pitted road surfaces, exploding fire hydrants, closing businesses, declining property values, chronically empty storefronts, rampant street crime, car theft, burglaries, robberies, guns and gunfire at the high school all betoken a broken community in steep decline.

    Where O where are all of those tax dollars being squandered? But if you’re a good Berkeley progressive, it’s not a question you’re likely to pose (at least publically) for fear that you might be indirectly associating yourself with critics of government spending. So, for the foreseeable future, the ruling junta in Berkeley will continue to have carte blanche with very little real public scrutiny of their malfeasance.

    At this rate, Berkeleyside, a news portal in part conceived to boost the community with positive tales and stories and build community, may need to rename itself Berkeleycide to stay relevant…