Repairing the water network

Repairing the water network

When a water main leak or break is reported, we prioritise repairs based on the potential for a temporary supply interruption for our customers or damage to property or the environment.

While every job is important, we fix the biggest leaks or breaks first.

So our crews can safely repair a water main, they isolate the damaged section of pipe. This usually involves operating a series of valves to shut off water and in so doing temporarily interrupts supply to nearby properties. It’s important we shut off and recharge the main gradually, so no additional problems occur in the surrounding water network.

Sometimes when we're repairing or replacing our pipes, we need to let water out of a valve or hydrant further down the network. This helps relieve pressure on the area of water main we're working on and minimises the chance of a rupture occurring nearby. We try to limit the impacts of this work by only letting out as much water as needed.

Although pipes sometimes break unexpectedly, water supply is available at least 99.95 per cent of the time across our entire state-wide water network.

To find out where repairs or planned upgrades within our water main network are taking place across South Australia, visit our works and faults map.

If you see a fault in our network, please call our 24/7 fault report line on 1300 883 121 or report it online.

Causes of water main breaks

South Australia has significant challenges in terms of its soil, topography and weather – it’s an unavoidable part of life in our growing city and state. Far more than other urban areas in Australia, Adelaide’s reactive soils combine with arid climates to dry out and wet far deeper.

This means the most common reason water mains break or leak is reactive clay soils moving as we change from hot and dry to wet and cool seasons.

Sudden changes in water pressure, damage during excavation and roadworks, and corrosion are also reasons for mains breaking or leaking. In fact, unintended damage by a third-party working near water mains accounts for more than five per cent of water main incidents across metropolitan Adelaide.

Ageing of all infrastructure is inevitable, however some people are surprised to learn that a pipe’s age is not always an indication of its quality. Both younger and older pipes have potential to break. In fact, we do not prioritise replacing water mains based on the pipe’s age alone.

How we support you during repairs

We understand the impact water main breaks can have on the community and for commuters.

In Adelaide, our customers affected by breaks are supported by a dedicated Community Support team, and in regional areas, our local depot. We provide temporary supplies of drinking water, organise any clean-up required and make sure everyone is informed of progress of repairs.

This is in addition to our operational crews who repair water main leaks and breaks as safely and quickly as possible, working with our traffic management partners if needed.

South Australia’s water main breaks

Number of water main breaks and leaks each month

2017

2018

2019

2020

January

245

317

332

351

February

246

347

384

245

March

300

399

443

344

April

253

328

384

326

May

312

451

438

364

June

367

444

436

431

July

296

388

367

441

August

283

321

339

346

September

205

275

249

229

October

189

236

226

 

November

222

215

244

 

December

245

252

291

 

Yearly total

3163

3973

4133

3077

Monthly average

264

331

344

342

Figures cited may change due to end of month variations and alterations to reporting processes.

How often water mains break across Australia

Water main leaks and breaks are not unique to South Australia.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) National Performance Report 2018-19: urban water utilities confirms the rate of water main leaks and breaks within our network is among the lowest in Australia, despite having one of the longest networks in the country.

This independent report shows our customers experienced 15 water main breaks per 100 kilometres of main in 2018-19, well below the national average of 22.8 for comparable water utilities (utilities with 100,000 plus customers).

Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) National Performance Report 2018-19: urban water utilities – water main breaks per 100 kilometres of main for major water utilities

Major Australian water utility

2017-18

2018-19

% change from 2017-18

City West Water (Victoria)

42.8

51.8

+21.0

Yarra Valley Water (Victoria)

46.3

43.9

-5.2

South East Water (Victoria)

37.1

36.9

-0.5

Barwon Water (Victoria)

29.4

32.3

+9.9

Queensland Urban Utilities (Queensland)

22.5

30

+33.3

Hunter Water (New South Wales)

30

27

-10.0

Sydney Water (New South Wales)

32.8

24.7

-24.7

SA Water (South Australia)

13.6

15

+10.3

Icon Water (ACT)

16.3

14.7

-9.8

Dial before you dig – it’s important!

To prevent damaging or even breaking a water main – which could cause widespread water outages and disruption to the community – it’s essential to Dial Before You Dig.

This will ensure the area you plan to work in is clear of any underground pipes. Contact Dial Before You Dig for information about service locations.

Unintended damage by a third party working near water mains accounts for more than five per cent of water main incidents across metropolitan Adelaide.

  • Major faults

  • Underway

  • Polkinghorns Rd
  • Arthurton
  • 18/06/2020
  • Water Supply On
  • 18/06/2020 03:05 PM - We are attending to an incident in Arthurton with no interruption to the water supply. The safety of our crews and customers comes first, and we always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as quickly as we can. Reference Number WO: 07505663.
  • See all major faults

  • Scheduled works

  • Underway
  • Wireless East Rd
  • Worrolong
  • 25/10/2020
  • Temporary Supply Interruption
  • Estimated start time and water supply off: 26/10/2020 09:00 AM
    Estimated restore time and water supply back on: 26/10/2020 12:00 PM

    We’re improving your services and undertaking maintenance work in Worrolong. Sometimes our crews need to temporarily interrupt the water supply to our customers and/or manage traffic while they are working. Temporary traffic management may remain in place until reinstatement of the impacted road is complete. We always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as safely and quickly as we can.


  • See all scheduled works