Leaks in our network

Across Auckland we have more than 9,000 kilometres of pipes delivering water to homes and businesses. If they were placed end-to-end, they would reach as far as Hong Kong. There are more than 440,000 connections to our water network and millions of separate joints. With a network of this size and complexity, unfortunately leaks are inevitable.
Leak on Watercare's Auckland network

What causes leaks?

  • ​Ground movement, especially in extreme weather conditions. When the ground dries out, it retracts from pipes and causes breakages. The summer of 2019/2020 was very dry and therefore there were more pipe breakages in Auckland than normal.
  • Wear and tear causing cracks, particularly in older pipes
  • Vibration damage from heavy traffic
  • ​Damaged caused by a third party, for example, during construction. In the past year there were more than 1000 incidents of third-party damage to Auckland’s water network
  • Seepage from very small leaks, which are often undetectable.

What are we doing about it?

We know there is room for improvement in our leakage levels and we are committed to bringing our leakage rates down.

Proactive leak detection
As part of our network improvement programme, we use acoustic leak detection technology to find unreported leaks and then repair them. We use a stick microphone to locate leaks by tapping it to a meter or pipe connection. Leaks have a distinctive sound as they are constantly running. This programme has been accelerated this year as we recover from Auckland’s record drought. By July 2021, we would have swept more than 6,000 kilometres of pipes and prevented millions of litres of water loss.

Pipe renewals
We spend more than $20 million a year replacing water pipes and supporting infrastructure. Between 25 and 30 kilometres of pipes are replaced each year.
 
Responding to leak reports
As Auckland recovers from 2020’s record-breaking drought, we are making every effort to respond to all leaks as soon as possible. We are constantly monitoring the number of leak reports and have more people in the field to enable us to repair leaks with urgency.

Click here to learn more about how we prioritise leaks and our expected response times.