How is water leakage managed?

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A certain amount of water leakage is to be expected in any water supply system. However due to the age of the network in the Dublin Region, many of the pipes are in such poor condition that they are prone to bursts, leaks and low water pressure. It is estimated that up to 1200 kilometres of the network is over 50 years old. The Dublin Region has been very proactive in managing water leakage since the mid 1990’s through the Active Leakage Reduction Programme and the Watermains Rehabilitation Programme. As a result leakage levels have been reduced from 43% to 29% from 1997 to 2009.

The property owner is responsible for repairing leaks on private property

Active Leak Reduction Programme

This programme aims to detect and repair leaks along Dublin City’s 2,400 kilometres of water pipelines. Many of the leaks are not visible to the eye as they do not rise to the surface. Instead they run to ground and can result in a considerable volume of water loss.

The City is presently split into 30 Supply Zones, with each of these zones subdivided into approximately 200 District Metered Areas (DMAs). The water consumption in these DMAs is closely monitored using the telemetry system. The telemetry system provides real time data on flows and pressure across the City and the Region. Significant increases are investigated and if there is no obvious reason for the increase the Leakage Team will carry out leak detection tests.

Most leaks do not rise to the surface but instead run to ground and are detected by using sophisticated listening devices that pick up the noise that water makes as it leaks from a pipe. This activity is best carried out at night, when it is quiet and there is not as much noise in the pipes from customers using water.

What causes leakage?

Leaks are generally the result of one of or a combination of the following:

  • The age of the network – about 50 % of the network dates back to pre 1940s.
  • Freezing pipes during the winter.
  • Traffic / impact / excavations / excessive water pressure.

How do I report a leak ?

To report a fault or seek an emergency repair, contact Irish Water at the details below. When reporting a leak, supply as much detail as possible. Details required include:

  • Location (including closest premises number or nearest junction).
  • Origin – footpath, grass, road or private property etc.
  • Nature of leak i.e. is water flowing or is it stagnant (in a puddle).

What happens after I report a leak?

Following a call to report a leak it is sent through to an Inspector in Dublin City Council for further investigation.

All leaks and breaks are inspected to determine their severity and to assess what equipment might be needed for repair work. In many cases what appears to be a leak can be a blocked drain. In such cases the job is passed to the Drainage Services Division for investigation.

If it is a mains water leak, a repair crew will be sent out. Leaks are prioritised according to:

  • Safety implications
  • Damage to property
  • Number / type of premises without water
  • Volume of water leaking
  • Traffic implications

The repair crew will then

  • Isolate the break
  • Redirect water if possible so the number of properties affected is minimised.
  • Excavate broken main
  • Cut out broken section
  • Replace the section of main
  • Recharge and flush the main
  • Provide interim or permanent reinstatement

Water may be redirected from other mains when a break occurs, to minimise the number of properties without water or with low water pressure.

If the water supply is expected to be off for an extended period a temporary water supply will be available from water tankers.

It may not always be possible to carry out the repairs straight away:

  • It may take time to locate the exact source of the leak.
  • For many major customers, water supply is critical e.g. hospitals. Where it is necessary to temporarily halt water supply to undertake repairs, this work is scheduled according to the needs of those affected so that impacts on customers are minimised.
  • The property owner is responsible for repairing leaks on private property
  • Access restrictions e.g. cars parked over a leak.
  • Permission will be sought if a main road needs to be temporarily closed to fix a leak of or if traffic restrictions need to be put in place.

For more information

Irish Water Contact Details:

Twitter:  @IrishWater
Telephone: 1890 278 278 (LoCall)
Minicom:  1890 378 378
(For hearing impaired customers with minicom equipment)
Postal Address: Irish Water, PO Box 860, South City Delivery Office, Cork City

Please continue to contact Dublin City Council for information or issues relating to business account queries, surface water drainage and flood management.