SA Water’s 2016-20 water main replacement program has reached a milestone, with 100km of water main replaced in metropolitan and regional areas of South Australia.

The four-year $137 million initiative aims to reduce the number of water main breaks and leaks, and limit the impact these incidents have on SA Water’s customers, road users and the wider community. As part of the initiative, SA Water will replace around 375km of water main over the four-year period.

In the first nine months of 2017, there have been 2528 water main breaks and leaks across the state. This is a 24 per cent decrease compared to the same time in 2016. In the Adelaide metropolitan area, the number of incidents for this period dropped by almost 30 per cent.

This reduction can be attributed to two key factors: an increase in the number of water mains being replaced in SA Water’s network; and more consistent rainfall that slowly eased into drier periods, resulting in more stable moisture levels in Adelaide’s clay soils.

Minister for Water and the River Murray, Ian Hunter, said, “Earlier this year, we announced an additional $55 million investment for SA Water’s main replacement program – this demonstrates this State Government’s commitment to improving the reliability of the state’s water supply network.

“This was a sound investment that is already contributing to an improvement in the performance of the water network, with a notable reduction in the number of water main breaks and leaks this year.

“As part of SA Water’s ongoing water main replacement program, they’re renewing pipes in regional areas, on busy arterial roads and in suburban streets, all with their customers and the wider community at the front of mind.”

Traditionally, water mains have an asset life of around 100 years, however a pipe’s age is not always an indication of its potential to experience a performance issue. More than 50 per cent of SA Water’s mains are less than 51 years old.

In Adelaide, the most common reason for breaks is reactive clay soils moving during the transition from hot to cold months. Other causes include sudden changes in water pressure, accidental damage during excavation and roadworks, and corrosion.

As outlined in the Bureau of Meteorology’s most recent National Performance Report (NPR) for urban water utilities, in 2015-16 SA Water customers experienced 14.9 breaks per 100km of pipe, compared with the national average of 25.7, with only five other Australian water utilities achieving a better rate.

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