Underground leaks in the water supply system occur as a result of aging and fatigued pipes, defective plumbing material, ground movement, or corrosion. Leaks are discovered by the presence of wet spots on the street surface, or by water flowing from a meter box or down a gutter. It is not uncommon to see the water distribution crew digging up a street and the area occupied with heavy equipment, cones, and signs as indications of a water leak repair in process.
Before an excavation can begin the work site is marked for utility identification, to prevent accidental damage to underground utilities. California Code 4216 requires anyone excavating to inform a regional notification center known as Underground Service Alert (USA), 1-800-227-2600. USA is a simple, free, notification service for professional contractors, excavators and homeowners who are planning a digging, blasting, trenching, drilling or other underground excavation projects. The street surface is then removed, and excavation is completed to expose the water main and/or water service line.
Often, repairs can be completed without disruption of water service to neighboring homes. Sometimes, however, entire sections of water main must be temporarily shut down in order to complete a repair. After the broken water line is replaced and water service is restored, the street and sidewalk are repaired to original specifications.
Water leaks occur at an average rate of approximately 200 leaks per year. Because of the frequency of water leaks, repair crews are kept very busy making repairs throughout the City. The Utilities Division relies on the public to report sightings of water coming up from beneath the street or water flowing down the gutter to maximize water conservation.
Responsibility for the repair of water leaks depends upon the location of the leak. Typically, the City is responsible for leaks that occur between the water main and the meter or meter box located near the sidewalk or curb. Water leaks that occur between this point and the residence or business are the responsibility of the property owner.
For confirmation of repair responsibility, call Public Works at (707) 588-3300 for assistance.