A burst water main on Mary Street in Brisbane city floods the street and flows around parked cars
A burst water main on Mary Street in Brisbane city floods the street and flows around parked cars

Where our water mains are bursting

DRY weather is behind southeast Queensland's water mains blowing open at a rate of ten times per day, sending precious water down the drain as dam levels continue to fall.

It comes as homeowners are urged to check their bills for outrageous water usage, with new statistics showing 'concealed leaks' on private property was costing some families thousands of dollars in shock bills.

It's lead water operators to take drastic measures, such as deploying "leak-detection dogs," which have so far sniffed out several dozen leaks in southeast Queensland.

There were 3,556 burst water mains across the region in financial year 2018-19, or nearly 10 times per day.

The largest supplier, Urban Utilities, reported 2,846 last financial year, up sharply on 2,114 bursts in 2017-18.

 

A burst water main on Mary Street in Brisbane city floods the street. Picture: File.
A burst water main on Mary Street in Brisbane city floods the street. Picture: File.

 

Under Urban Utilities, Brisbane had 2,274 bursts and Ipswich 327, while Logan and the Gold Coast, who run their own water, had 131 and 319 respectively.

Unity Water reported 260 bursts, 132 in Moreton Bay and 128 on the Sunshine Coast and Noosa.

Urban Utilities spokeswoman Michelle Cull said dry conditions were ironically leading to more water leaks.

 

 

"Dry weather causes clay soils in the region to contract, which can place pressure on underground pipes causing them to shift and break," Ms Cull said.

She said burst water mains were repaired within two hours, and "leak-detection dogs" were being deployed to detect leaks.

"So far, their super sensitive noses have detected 33 leaks."

"What makes them so impressive is that they are able to differentiate between water leaking

from a pipe underground and all other types of water on the surface," Ms Cull said.

Urban Utilities water leak detection dogs Danny and Halo. These furry friends are on the front line in preventing bursts, as drying earth causes pipes to shift. Picture: Lachie Millard
Urban Utilities water leak detection dogs Danny and Halo. These furry friends are on the front line in preventing bursts, as drying earth causes pipes to shift. Picture: Lachie Millard

The City of Gold Coast, which manages its own water, reported 9.2 leaks per 100km of pipes across its 3,000km of water infrastructure.

"In this year, the City had the third lowest reported water main breaks in comparison to 15 other major water utilities," a City of Gold Coast spokeswoman said.

"The increase over the last year is related to the prolonged dry conditions experienced," she said.

Residents were also being warned to check their own water pipes, with so-called concealed leaks costing many property owners thousands of dollars.

Wayne Bagnell's burst water pipe, which he said hadn't been replaced in over 60 years and cost him over $5,000 to replace. Picture: Wayne Bagnell.
Wayne Bagnell's burst water pipe, which he said hadn't been replaced in over 60 years and cost him over $5,000 to replace. Picture: Wayne Bagnell.

Urban Utilities reimbursed 1,139 property owners an average of $716.79 for concealed leaks on their premises, each of which could've wasted thousands of litres of water.

Kedron resident Wayne Bagnell said he spent $5,044 repairing a burst connection under his house, since pipes on his property hadn't been replaced in over 60 years.

"I kept saying, I must get this checked, but eventually the leak happened," Mr Bagnell said.

"The water pressure had been dropping off for some time."

Mr Bagnell's concealed leak itself led to a $491.67 water bill, of which Urban Utilities reimbursed him $127.


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