Maintaining our water supply

All in a day's work

From our regular maintenance programs and special projects to emergency repairs, our crews are out there every day working to ensure you have safe, reliable water whenever you need it. Leaks and breaks do happen, but we continue to explore technologies that enable us to detect problems early and to repair them with as little interruption as possible to your service.


Our maintenance programs

To ensure a reliable water supply, we're continually:

  • maintaining the quality of our drinking water
  • checking for leaks and repairing them
  • managing water pressure
  • improving our water network infrastructure
  • looking for other ways to better manage resources to save water.

We'll inspect 15,000 to 18,000 kilometres of water pipes during the year.

Responsibilities for maintenance and repairs

We repair and maintain the blue parts of this illustration. The property owner is responsible for the parts coloured white.

We own and maintain the large pipes (mains) in the street and the water meter at your property. You're responsible for all the pipes and fittings that connect to the main including the meter tap. Usually you'll need to call a plumber for repairs to the plumbing on your property. 

However, if you contact us, we’ll repair your water pipes between our water system and the meter, up to one metre inside your property boundary for free. For units, this is the master strata property boundary.

You must protect any of our pipes and fittings that are on your land. Under the Sydney Water Act 1994, you must let us enter your property if we need to maintain or repair any part of our water, wastewater or stormwater systems. 

Find out more about general plumbing information

If the meter tap and pipe near it has been damaged, eg run over, hit by a lawn mower or vandalised, we may charge you extra to fix it.

 

Please read our Responsibilities of connected customers policy (358 KB) to find out more.


Leaks and breaks 

We manage 22,000 kilometres of water pipes, so dealing with leaks and breaks is a normal part of operating a water utility. Too much rain, not enough rain, changes in temperature or ground conditions, tree roots, heavy traffic and construction work can all lead to breaks in water pipes. To stop all water leaks would cost billions of dollars. Instead, we identify leaks through ongoing maintenance and inspections and have teams on standby all the time to fix any water leaks that are found.

We save up to 20 billion litres of water each year through our Leak Reduction Program. 

 

What can you do if you have no water?

First check that the water isn't turned off at the water meter. The meter tap turns clockwise like a normal tap. If the water is already turned on, check our water supply and service updates to see if we're working near you. This will tell you when we think we'll have the water back on.

 

We always try to notify you if we need to turn the water off, but sometimes we need to do emergency repairs. A problem in a nearby street may affect your property even though you can't see it. If your property isn't listed as a known water outage and you still have no water, please let us know.

 

Call 13 20 90 24/7 to report a fault.


We use everything from listening devices to leak detection dogs to find hidden leaks.

Leak reduction program

We use world's best practice to find hidden leaks using everything from leak detection dogs to listening devices. This saves about 30 billion litres of water each year and helps maintain the reliability of our water supply system. Leak detection and repair is one of the main ways we reduce water loss. 

We also have ongoing proactive maintenance programs to maintain our pipelines and prevent leaks occurring in the first place. You can read about some of these maintenance programs below.

Our work to manage and repair water leaks is ongoing. Our teams work 24/7, 365 days a year to repair leaks and save water.

How we monitor for leaks

Soil expands and contracts with changes to moisture levels in the ground, causing pipes to crack. So, we monitor rainfall and soil moisture levels to target areas where leaks are likely to occur. We use acoustic devices and a leak detection dog to pick up the noise that water makes as it leaks from pipes. This helps us quickly identify and repair hidden leaks.

We'll inspect up to 12,000 kilometres of pipes this year. In areas that have high water pressure, we install pressure reducing valves to reduce the stress on pipes and lower the number of leaks and breaks in pipes.

We also rely on customers to tell us about leaks in public places. When you report a water leak, we'll send out a crew to attend. Our response time will depend on the amount of water flow and risk to the surrounding area. By replacing the most critical pipes first, we minimise the risk of pipes bursting and reduce water loss.

Replacing cast iron pipes 

About 90% of our leaks and breaks are from cast iron pipes. The structure of cast iron changes over time as it reacts with soil and water. This causes pipes to break. We haven't used cast iron pipes since the 1980s. We now use a variety of ductile iron, steel and PVC pipes.


Report a leak

If you've seen water leaking in a public space such as on a road or footpath, please tell us so we can investigate and fix the problem. We prioritise leaks depending on how severe they are, but also on how much disruption they'll cause to the community. We fix them as soon as we can. 

If the problem is urgent, or you're reporting between 11 pm and 6 am, please call us on 13 20 90. Otherwise select the button below to use our online form.

 

If you see a leak in a public place, even if it's just a trickle, please let us know.


Pipes and infrastructure

We replace aged and damaged water pipes, valves, hydrants and may repair private water service pipes to improve the water supply system.

We also maintain and upgrade our water reservoirs and pumping stations.

This work reduces the risk of pipes breaking. It also helps maintain the reliability of our water supply and provide good quality drinking water.

Water asset maintenance and renewal 

We assess the condition of our large water pipes right across Sydney to get information about which pipes need to be repaired or replaced before they break. This ongoign program reduces leaks and breaks and helps maintain a reliable good quality drinking water supply.

We assess the condition of large pipes to try to determine which need maintenance, before they break..

Maintenance and repairs

We're always improving our water supply system by fixing and renewing our water assets. This includes:

  • old or damaged water pipes 
  • valves
  • hydrants
  • private water service pipes
  • cleaning, painting, strengthening and relining water reservoirs.

We also repair and replace electrical equipment that helps us remotely monitor water flow, pressures and levels to prioritise our pipe repairs.


Water pressure

High water pressure can lead to breaks in water pipes and cause leaks in our water system.

The aim of our Water Pressure Program is to adjust and achieve more consistent pressure levels in our water supply system. This helps to:

  • reduce the number of pipe breaks
  • improve the reliability of the water supply system
  • save water.

Our water pressure management and monitoring programs allowus to reduce or increase wter perssure where it is needed across our networks.

We're using pressure reduction valves to reduce water pressure and minimise breaks.

Water pressure explained

Water pressure is a measure of the force needed to move water from our mains into your pipes. Our Operating Licence requires us to supply a minimum pressure of 15 metres head at the point of connection to the property (usually the mains tap). Most properties in Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains receive water pressure at between 15 metres and 65 metres. 

If water pressure is too high it can cause pipes to break. If water pressure is too low, you may not be able to use it as you wish. We monitor and respond to enquiries to improve the consistency of water pressure across Greater Sydney. This may involve replacing old pressure gauges and installing booster pumps in areas with very low or inconsistent water pressure. 

 

Water Pressure Management Program

The current overall average pressure in our systems is 52 metres. Some customers receive significantly higher pressure – above 100 metres. Our Water Pressure Management Program is an ongoing program to reduce water pressure targetting areas across Sydney where the pressure is excessively high.

Learn more about our Water Pressure Management Program.

 


We're building a water pumping station, a reservoir and pipelines at Cecil Park Reservoir

Prospect South to Macarthur (ProMac)

We're investing in new infrastructure to support the growing, dynamic South Western Sydney, building new drinking water pipelines and infrastructure between Prospect South and Macarthur (ProMac) to increase capacity and supply.

We'll upgrade our existing water reservoirs at Liverpool and Cecil Parkand build 2 new ones at Oran Park. This will provide 100 megalitres of extra capacity for South Western Sydney. 

We’re also building 15 kilometres of additional pipeline, 3 pumping stations and upgrading our existing network.

ProMac will help us deliver on our vision of creating a better life with world-class water services.

Learn more about ProMac at Sydney Water Talk.


What happens when we're working in your area

Some work may take as little as a few days, while other projects can take several months. In longer projects, such as replacing large water pipes, work often happens across a few streets. It's unlikely that we'll work in front of your property for the whole length of the project. If we're working in your area, we'll write to affected customers. We may also door knock your property to discuss the work and its impacts in detail. We'll display signs near the work area when work begins.

We may need to temporarily interrupt your water supply and sometimes your power supply during our work. We'll advise you in writing of any planned water or power shutdowns and work with you to minimise any impacts.

If it's an emergency, we may not be able to notify you in advance. For 24-hour emergency assistance, please call us on 13 20 90

 

We try to avoid working at night but sometimes it's unavoidable, especially on busy roads.

We try to reduce the impacts of our work 

Noise and traffic

If we're working in your street, you may notice an increase in noise and truck and vehicle movements. We may have to dig areas of the road, footpath or nature strip, and divert traffic temporarily.

Night work

We'll try to avoid working at night, but sometimes we need to work when there's less traffic and water use is lower. If we work at night, we'll try to keep the noise down and avoid shining bright lights near homes.

Excavations

If we're replacing a pipe, we'll bore underneath driveways wherever we can. However, if we need to dig across your driveway, we'll temporarily restore it at the end of each work day. In longer projects, such as replacing large water pipes, work often happens across a few streets. It's unlikely that we will work in front of your property for the whole length of the project.

Water pressure changes

If we're working on the reservoir that usually supplies your water and your property needs to be temporarily supplied with water from another reservoir, you may notice a change in water pressure. The type of change will depend on the elevation of your property and the amount of water being used in your area at the time.

Electrical safety

We might need to test the electrical switchboard at your property. If your property’s electrical system is defective and relies on the metal water pipe to ground electrical currents, our workers and the property's residents may be at risk from an electric shock. To reduce this risk, our contractors test properties for electrical faults before work starts. 

Restoration

Once all work is finished in your street, we'll restore sections of the road, footpath or driveway that we've cut. We generally put high quality topsoil and grass seed on any disturbed nature strips. Residents can help the seeds germinate and continue to grow by watering from time-to-time in line with Water Wise Rules. We work with local councils to repair public areas.

Delays

For safety reasons, we generally can't work during heavy rain. We'll tell you if we need to postpone work for an extended period.

Return visits

Sometimes you won't see any crews at a work site for a while, as new water pipes are cleaned and tested. Once a new water pipe has passed all health quality tests, we'll return to complete the work and restore the area. We continue to monitor all the pipes across our network to identify and replace those at high risk of failure. We prioritise pipes in most urgent need of replacement to minimise the risk of pipe breaks and water leaks. Sometimes we need to return to a site later on to replace pipes that are less critical than the ones we've already replaced.

Right to enter property

Most of our work is done in the street,b ut sometimes we may need to enter your property. In this case, we'll try to notify you and may leave a card asking to make a time when it suits you. It's unlikely you'll need to be at home, but we ask you to secure your pets and unlock any gates. We have a right to enter property under the Sydney Water Act, but we always try to work with you to avoid disruption.

Why is your water sometimes cloudy? Is it safe?

From time to time, water may appear 'cloudy' when you turn on your tap. Your water is safe to drink. Cloudy water is just tiny air bubbles caused by water of different temperatures entering our system. This is completely normal, particularly in warmer weather. When you fill a glass, the water will clear from the bottom up and should be completely clear in a few seconds. If you're concerned, let the water rest for 30 seconds. Please contact us if you're still concerned about your water quality.

 


Have your say about our projects

Your feedback is important to us.

Visit Sydney Water Talk to learn more about our projects and provide feedback.