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
  • ​Damage 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. Since the programme begun, we have swept more than 6000 kilometres of pipes and prevented an estimated 10 millions litres a day of water loss. Check out the video below to see the team in action.

Pipe renewals: Over the next 20 years, we plan to spend about $4.58 billion on renewals of our watermains and their associated network infrastructure. This represents a shift from reactive to proactive pipe replacement, which will reduce leakage.

Responding to leak reports
We aim to respond to all leaks within five days, however most are fixed within three days. We attend major leaks within an hour from being notified. 

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