The number of water main breaks and leaks across SA Water's network decreased by 25.8 per cent in 2017, with 3128 incidents recorded, down from 4216 the year before*.
SA Water's General Manager of Asset Operations and Delivery Mark Gobbie said the improved outcomes were the result of the corporation's capital investment program and weather conditions.
"We’ve put 123.5 kilometres of new water mains in the ground over the past 18 months, removing and replacing pipes that had a history of breaks," Mark said.
"The mostly mild transitions between the seasons last year also kept soil moisture levels more consistent, noticeably reducing the impact of movement within Adelaide’s reactive clay soils."
Incorporating more technology into its network also helped SA Water’s results, with real-time information being gathered from its CBD smart network which uses a series of acoustic, flow and pressure sensors to try identify and fix faults before they escalate or cause disruption.
"Our water main network comprises more than 27,000 kilometres of pressurised pipe often laid within highly reactive clay soils, so we must be realistic and acknowledge we won’t ever completely stop all water main breaks and leaks," Mark said.
"Despite the challenges of operating one of the longest networks in Australia, the facts confirm the reliability of SA Water’s network is very good and improving."
Even before 2017’s 25.8 per cent decrease in water main breaks and leaks, the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Performance Report (NPR) 2015-16 urban water utilities confirmed SA Water’s network as one of the best performing in Australia.
According to the Bureau, in 2015/16 SA Water customers experienced 14.9 water main breaks or leaks per 100 kilometres of pipe, which was far lower than the national average of 25.7, and only bettered by five of the 15 other comparable Australian water utilities.
Queensland’s Unity Water achieved the best result during that period with 3.7 breaks per 100 kilometres, while Yarra Valley Water in Victoria had the most room for improvement, with 48.5 breaks per 100 kilometres.
"Ultimately these figures indicate we’re making inroads in minimising the interruption and inconvenience of main breaks and leaks on our customers and the community, and that’s our measure of success," Mark said.
SA Water’s ongoing water main replacement program will see $137 million invested to replace around 375 kilometres of water main across South Australia between 2016 and 2020.
More information on water main renewals across the state, as well as details on existing pipes, is available through an interactive map on SA Water’s website.
*Figures for 2017 are for water main breaks and leaks up to 31 December 2017, based on the information available to SA Water at this time. Figures cited in this media release may change due to end of month variations and alterations to reporting processes.
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