Groundwater, leaks and stormwater

Each year when winter rolls around, annoying leaks, groundwater and stormwater can all start to look the same – they look like a puddle on the ground. And each winter we receive an increased volume of requests to fix suspected leaks in the community. However, sometimes when our crew reach the site, they find the suspected leak isn’t a leak, it’s groundwater or stormwater. These types of callouts are called non-jobs and account for 10 per cent of our team’s total jobs. To reduce non-jobs and improve our efficiency when tending to actual leaks, we need your help to correctly identify leaks from groundwater and stormwater. With your help, we can focus on leaks and wastewater issues on the public network.

What is groundwater?  

Groundwater is water found in the ground. It is a natural resource that forms when rainwater soaks into the ground filling small empty spaces in soil, sediment, and porous rock. In winter, the ground is highly saturated, so groundwater can make its way to the surface. Groundwater resurfacing is completely natural, and it will often disappear when the ground dries out.


What's the difference between groundwater and leaks?

Groundwater tends to be most noticeable in low lying areas near driveways, water meter boxes, next to retaining walls, on fields or near rocks.  Leaks can appear anywhere and result from cracked pipes. With leaks you will most likely see water gushing out from an unknown source, while groundwater will often appear as a somewhat stagnant pool of water.

Keep reading to find out what groundwater looks like and what to do when you find it on the public network or your private property.

A photo of groundwater on the lawn
A photo of oxidised groundwater

What does groundwater look like? 

It can sometimes be orange in colour or have an oily sheen. The orange colour occurs because of the presence of dissolved iron in the water.
 

Do I need to report groundwater to Watercare?

No. If you spot groundwater in your community (on footpaths, fields etc), leave it to dry - please do not report it to us.
 

There's water in my yard, could it be groundwater?

If there have been no issues with your water supply, the water in your yard is likely to be groundwater and you may need to engage the services of a registered plumber or drain layer. They can give you advice on how to manage groundwater on your property. 

What is stormwater? 

Stormwater is runoff from rain which is naturally absorbed by plants and soil. Excess stormwater will flow into the stormwater network (drains) which are managed by Auckland Council. However, when stormwater meets hard surfaces such as pavements and parking lots, it can’t be properly absorbed by the ground, leaving a puddle or flood. These puddles are often seen in winter due to the constant wet weather.
 

How do I know if I'm looking at stormwater?

If it has been raining or drizzling in the past few days, the puddle you are looking at on the pavement is likely stormwater and doesn’t need reporting. If it hasn’t been raining and there is no oily or orange tinge to the puddle, you could be looking at a leak. Leaks on the public network (footpaths, berms, roads) need to be reported to us.
 

Who deals with stormwater issues?

If you are concerned about a stormwater issue or stormwater flooding (like the photo below) is affecting a public asset such as manholes, drains, ponds, wetlands or roads, please call 09 301 0101 to get in touch with Auckland Council. 

A photo of a stormwater overflow flooding a reserve


Leaks you should report  

Water leaks on the public network such as the berm, footpath and street need to be reported to us. If you're unsure whether the leak is a private matter for the homeowner to fix (ie: on their driveway), or a public matter for us to deal with, refer to this page to find out who is responsible for pipes.

Wastewater overflows - including any problems with manholes (see below), whether they are on public or private property - need to be reported to us.
 

Leaks you should not report 

Water leaks located on private property - between the water meter and the house/building - are the homeowner or business owners’ responsibility. These could be leaks on driveways or in yards. If you suspect there is a leak on your property, refer to this page to do a leak test. If you do have a leak, contact a registered plumber as our crew only attend to leaks on the public network.

To learn about leaks on our public network, click here.

A leak on the public network

There are two types of manholes:

  • Stormwater manholes are managed by Auckland Council
  • Wastewater manholes are managed by us

If you see a manhole leaking or overflowing, in the first instance, please click here to chat with our team over LiveChat.

Manhole leaking on public property

Manhole leaking on public property

If you see this, please click here to report it via LiveChat
Manhole leaking on a driveway

Manhole leaking on a driveway

If you see this, please click here to report it via LiveChat
Manhole overflowing in a backyard

Manhole overflowing in a backyard

If you see this, please click here to report it via LiveChat


Help reduce our non-jobs by reporting only leaks on the public network. Use the information below to determine whether the water you are looking at on your berm, driveway or road is groundwater, stormwater or a leak. Remember, when you are reporting a public leak or a wastewater issue, please include photos so our team can prioritise the job accordingly.
 

  

Leaks  

Groundwater  

Stormwater  

Wastewater  

Appearance  

Water gushing out from an unknown source.

A puddle on the ground in low lying areas.

A puddle on the ground or a flood in wet weather.

Greywater gushing out from an unknown source or a puddle on the ground.

Colour  

Clear  

Typically has an oily sheen or orange tinge. 

Clear/muddy

Grey/dirty  

Who is responsible?  

If found on a public location such as a footpath, berm or road, please report to us.

  

If found on your private property (any location between the water meter and the home/business), contact a registered plumber.

  

Click here for more info

If found in a public area such as a footpath, please leave it to dry.

If found on private property (any location beyond the water meter), contact a registered plumber or drain layer.

Stormwater issues are managed by Auckland Council.

If you have a blocked drain or wastewater (sewage) overflow, call us before you call a plumber. We will assess, at no cost to you, whether the cause is in the public pipe or in your drain.

 

How to report  

Report any leaks on the public network via our LiveChat service or call 09 442 2222. Please always include photos with your reports.

No need to report.

Call Auckland Council on 09 301 0101.

Report via our LiveChat service or call 09 442 2222. Please always include photos with your reports.