In Adelaide, the most common reason for water main breaks is reactive clay soils moving during the transition from hot and dry seasons to wet and cool. Adelaide’s reactive soils combine with an arid climate to dry out and wet far deeper than any other urban area in the country.
Other causes include sudden changes in water pressure, accidental damage during excavation and roadworks, and corrosion.
The ageing of our infrastructure is inevitable, however contrary to belief, a pipe’s age is not always an indication of its quality. Both younger and older pipes have the potential to fail.
Accidental damage by a third party undertaking works around water mains accounts for more than five per cent of water main failures in the metropolitan area. To minimise any potential interruptions to the community, it is important to Dial Before You Dig and ensure there aren't any underground pipes in the area you are working in. You can call 1100 during business hours to request information on our underground pipe locations.
*Figures cited may change due to end of month variations and alterations to reporting processes.
Water main breaks and leaks aren’t unique to South Australia.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) National Performance Report 2017-18: urban water utilities confirms the rate of water main breaks and leaks within our network is actually among the lowest in Australia, despite having the longest network in the country.
Data in this independent report shows SA Water customers experienced 13.6 water main breaks per 100 kilometres of main, well below the national average of 22.3, and only bettered by four of 15 comparable water utilities (utilities with 100,000 plus customers) across Australia.
Our Community Support team helps our customers across metropolitan Adelaide affected by water main breaks and leaks by providing temporary supplies of drinking water, organising any clean-up required and providing information about the progress of repairs.
This is in addition to our operational crews whose focus is to repair main breaks and leaks as quickly and safely as possible. Chiefly through contractors, the crews also arrange site signage and traffic management.
We're fully committed to reducing both the incidence and effects of breaks or leaks on our customers and the work of the Community Support team is vital to helping SA Water reduce the impact of water main incidents on customers.
Since the team was established in 2016, they’ve provided support and assistance to more than 110,000 SA Water customers (as at July 2019) at around 3100 incidents.
The team was created in response to community feedback that we needed to do better and work harder to keep our customers informed on water and sewer main incidents affecting them, and provide more support through these events. Now the team is considered ‘business as usual’ and we continue to receive positive feedback from our customers and the wider community on the great work they do.
Despite the environmental challenges our water main network faces, we’re making positive steps towards our objective of minimising the interruption and inconvenience of main breaks and leaks on our customers and the wider community. This includes:
Follow our #WaterMain101 series on your preferred social media platform, where’ll you find interesting facts, photos and videos on topics such as pipe materials, how to report a main break or leak, clearing your taps after nearby pipe repairs and relieving pressure during water main works.