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Cotter Dam from below

Water Mains Renewal Program

Canberra has over 3,400 kilometres of distribution/reticulation water mains that supply drinking water to our customers from a number of reservoirs around the city. The Canberra water reticulation network has grown as Canberra has grown, with the oldest pipes dating back to 1915. Parts of the network (especially in older parts of Canberra) consist of unlined cast iron pipes. Unlined pipes have sometimes been the cause of flow restrictions and water discolouration, particularly during times of high demand, or changes in the network such as flow increase or flow reversal. In addition, some areas have recorded a higher risk of pipe failure than we would like.


The Water Mains Renewal Program aims to improve water quality and flow, and minimise the risk of water main failures, so we can continue to provide the  the highest quality and safest drinking water possible.

Access to your property

We will need to access the water meter on your property prior to and following renewal works. Affected residents will receive a letter from us once work is confirmed – this may be several months before the work begins. Residents will receive another letter at least seven days prior to access being required.  

Our contractors will provide written notification three days prior to work starting on your street. A courtesy letter will be left if we are unable to access your property.

What’s involved?

We have engaged Interflow and Downer Pipe Tech to undertake these works. Their staff will always be carrying Icon Water identification cards. 

The program includes excavation of pits in the road, footpath or nature strip. Renewal of pipes will mainly use the pipe bursting technique, which involves pulling a new polyethylene pipe through an existing pipe with the aid of a bursting head. As the bursting head is pushed through, using either pneumatic or hydraulic hammer, the existing pipe cracks and creates space for the new pipe. A new pipeline can then be installed within the existing alignment without needing to excavate the whole pipe alignment. 

Occasionally, open trenching method is adopted for pipe laying in areas where pipe bursting is not feasible due to the ground conditions. 

Traffic management plans will be put in place to ensure the safety of road users.

Testing for safety 

To ensure the safety of the community and our contractors, we are required to test electrical earthing arrangements of affected properties before commencing the pipe replacement works. Customers will receive further correspondence before this testing takes place.

Water supply and temporary water services

Continuity of water supply to customers during construction will be ensured by providing temporary water supply connections to customers through small diameter polyethylene pipes. This supply is connected to your water meter. 

There will be a temporary loss of water supply (a few minutes) when the supply is initially connected and again when it is disconnected once the works are completed. Customers will be notified at least four days in advance of any planned interruption to water supply. 

How you can help

Please keep access to your water meter clear to ensure we can connect your temporary supply. If we are unable to access your meter, the contractor will contact you prior to the works.

Make sure that your household and visitors are aware of the temporary pipes, to reduce the likelihood of tripping and any other possible injuries. Please do not modify, disconnect or turn off the pipework, as you may impact your whole street.

Water quality

The quality of the temporary water supply is of the same high standard you normally receive; however, you may experience a slight reduction in pressure.  

Due to the complexity of these works, short periods of water discolouration may occur when the temporary connection is made. Water will usually clear quickly with normal use. Until the water runs clear, we recommend you avoid using appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers to avoid potentially staining or discolouring clothes and crockery.

Site access 

In some situations, driveway access may be affected. We will notify you in advance so that alternative arrangements can be made. We will install vehicle ramps where temporary services are installed across driveways. Please ask drivers to move slowly across these ramps without stopping, to reduce the risk of damage to your temporary supply.


Surrounding roads, footpaths, driveways and grassed areas can be affected by these works. All reasonable steps will be taken to minimise damage and restore property as soon as practicable to a condition similar to its condition before operations began, as per the Utilities ACT 2000. Please talk to us as soon as you become aware of any affected property so that we can resolve the issue. 

Talk to us

For general enquiries you can contact us between 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday, by dialling 02 6248 3111 and selecting option 3. You can also email us at any time. In the event of a fault or emergency please call 02 6248 3111 and select option 1.

We thank you for your patience and cooperation throughout this important program of works. Please respect our assets and staff so that we can continue to provide the highest quality water and sewerage services to the ACT.