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 in 2016.

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 123.5km of new water mains in the ground over the past 18 months, removing and replacing pipes that had a history of breaks,” Mr Gobbie said.

“The mostly mild transitions between the seasons last year (2017) 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 identify and fix faults before they escalate or cause disruption.

“Our water main network comprises more than 27,000km 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,” Mr Gobbie 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.”

SA Water’s network was reported as one of the best performing water utilities in Australia in the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM), National Performance Report (NPR) 2015-16 urban water utilities.

According to the report, in 2015/16 SA Water customers experienced 14.9 water main breaks or leaks per 100km 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 100km, while Yarra Valley Water in Victoria had the most room for improvement, with 48.5 breaks per 100km.

“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,” Mr Gobbie said.

SA Water’s ongoing water main replacement program will see $137 million invested to replace around 375km of water main across South Australia between 2016 and 2020. 

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