VANDENBERG AFB, Santa Barbara County - VAFB officials say a contract construction worker mistakenly broke a 50 year old, eight inch water main Tuesday afternoon by hitting it with a backhoe.
That hit water pressure levels across the VAFB water grid, forcing the complete shutdown of the water system on base.
Apart from turned off taps and loss of water pressure, it was business as usual on base for military and civilian personnel.
"The impact was mostly to community services such as food service, child care and dormitory residence", said VAFB Lt. Col. Lefty Pakulski who is an acting deputy Commander, "there are a lot of facilities that are downstream from the broken pipe that were affected by a brief loss of water pressure, but we did not interrupt any mission operations."
VAFB crews worked overnight to repair the break and get the water flowing again on base.
But it could be awhile before the water is found to be safe to drink pending studies by VAFB environmental scientists.
Meantime a boil water advisory remains in effect as a precautionary measure.
Base officials say there's been no evidence of any contamination to the base water supply.
When the water shutoff on base on Tuesday, it meant a busy lunchtime business off base on Wednesday.
With nearly everywhere to eat on base closed, military and civilian personnel flocked to nearby restaurants and sandwich shops for lunch.
"I've been here almost seven years on the base and this is the first time I've seen something like this" says Tony, a civilian VAFB worker.
The water outage caused a foot-long frenzy at the nearby Subway in Vandenberg Village.
"We can flush, that's important", says civilian base worker Bernard Jones who came to eat at Subway, "we use bottle water for our coffee so, its not too bad."
There was also a Wednesday lunchtime windfall at Village Burger as well thanks to a broken water main that left thousands of people on base temporarily without water.
VAFB officials say so far the repair on the broken water pipe is holding and water pressure and supplies have been restored.
They don't know how much water has been lost by the broken main, but point out its far less than the average daily water consumption on base, or less than two percent.
VAFB officials also say the water is from their own supply on base and not from neighboring communities or groundwater supplies coping with the ongoing drought.