Water leaks

Water Supply

What to do if you detect a leak

Privately or collectively owned properties

If you detect a leak on a section of pipe servicing your house that is privately  owned, a registered plumber can be engaged to fix the leak. The plumber should be advised that the leak is private and not a Council responsibility.

If the pipe is in common ownership (i.e. shared with other properties) then you should talk to your neighbours and/or body corporate prior to arranging for repairs to be carried out. If the costs of repair are going to be shared by more than one homeowner, one person may have to pay the plumber’s invoice and recuperate the costs from the other homeowners who share responsibility for maintaining the pipe.

If you are having difficulties, a Council Water Services Technician may be able to help or offer advice.

Council-owned property

If you detect a leak on a pipe that you or your registered plumber believe is the Council’s responsibility, you can report the problem by:

  • Phoning Council 24/7 on 03 687 7200
  • Reporting the issue using the Snap Send Solve app 
  • Filling in the Fix-it form on our website
  • Emailing us at: enquiry@timdc.govt.nz

The Council will help determine if it is public or private land and may send a maintenance crew to investigate the leak.

If the leak is located on private land, Council will notify the person who contacted the Council about the leak to inform them that it is a private responsibility.

Your responsibilities

Under Council's Bylaw, you may not knowingly allow:

  • Water to run to waste from any pipe, tap, or other fitting
  • Leaks to continue unchecked or unrepaired
  • Allow unattended operation of hoses
  • Let the condition of the plumbing within your property to deteriorate to the point where leakage or wastage occurs or where contamination of water supply occurs or is likely to occur.

If we become aware of a leak on your property that needs to be fixed urgently, then we can serve you with a notice that requires you to take action to fix that leak within a specified period. If you haven’t fixed the leak within this notice period, under Council's bylaw and Section 186 of the Local Government Act we can access your property to undertake the repair work required and charge all costs (including administrative costs) to you.

Our responsibilities

We are responsible for:

  • Providing reliable, safe, efficient water supply services.
  • Maintaining public water supply networks.
  • Monitoring and testing water quality.

If there is a leak is on our side of the point of supply e.g. on the street, we will repair it as quickly as possible. Our aim is to repair major leaks within 12 hours and small leaks within three days. If you have a leaking service valve (toby) or water meter, we aim to fix or replace it within three days.

(Photo of toby with meter)

Please contact us if you notice any leaks on the road or footpath so that we can fix them promptly. As part of our maintenance and renewal programme we prioritise areas of our water supplies where leakage is high.

How do you know if you have a leak?

Non-metered properties
The best way to find a leak is to use your eyes and ears. There are several simple checks you can do:

  • Check for damp patches in the garden or driveway during dry weather
  • Look for single patches of the lawn that are always green no matter how dry the weather has been
  • Listen for water running down a drain when no water is being used in your property
  • Listen for water hissing or the sound of running water (rather like when your tank or cistern in the toilet is filling) when there is no water being used in the house.

Metered properties
You may have a leak if your water bill is unusually high. If you believe you have a leak, we suggest that you check your water meter. This is the most accurate way to know whether you have a leak.

To check your meter, follow these steps:

  • Turn off all your taps
  • Read the meter a couple of times.
  • If the meter reading goes up, you may have a leak.
  • Contact your plumber to get the leak fixed.

A higher than usual bill could indicate that you have a leak - but you will also need to think about whether your water usage has changed (e.g. you’ve been watering your garden over summer) or whether the bill is a ‘catch up’ on previously estimated amounts. We also aim to make sure your water meter has been correctly read, but if you believe there is an error in the reading please contact us.

Activities like irrigating the garden can dramatically increase your water usage as can leaky pipes, taps and stock troughs.

You can estimate your water usage using this online tool.

To find out more about saving water, please check out our water saving tips.

Water charge refund

Metered properties may be eligible for a remission on your water rates if you find a leak and fix it promptly, under our Remission of Excess Water Charges Policy.

This policy applies where it is believed that excess water has been charged due to a faults (leak) in the internal reticulation (private pipework).

To be eligible you need to:

  • Apply to us in writing requesting a remission
  • Promptly repair the leak as soon as possible after you notice it (within one month unless you can prove that a repairer wasn’t available)
  • Provide us with proof that the leak has been repaired (e.g. invoice from plumber).

If we approve the remission, we will estimate your consumption based on previous meter readings. You will be charged the full amount for normal consumption of water, and the excess amount will be remitted.

Generally, we will only grant a remission for a property once a year.

Water loss and leakage reduction

Why leakage is important

Leaks can cause unnecessary wastage of water. We value our most natural resource, water, and our focus on reducing leakage is an important part of sustainably managing water demand. Leaks on private properties can significantly contribute to the total demand on our water supplies. If you have a leak on your property and you have a water meter, your water bill will be higher if your leak is not fixed.

Council's water loss and leakage reduction programme assesses the amount of non-revenue water (NRW) in the network.

Non-revenue water is the quantity of water extracted from our water supply wells minus the quantity of water used and delivered to our metered customers. This is made up of:

  • Physical losses due to leakage from pipes both on private property and on the reticulation system.
  • Administrative losses due to unmetered consumption, such as water for fire fighting, or illegal connections.

Are private water leaks really an issue?

Yes.  Leak Detection surveys undertaken in 2022, have revealed a significant number of private leaks from urban water schemes.


Total number of leaks

Total leak flow rates
(actual and estimated)

Litres per minute

Timaru - Gleniti



Timaru North



Timaru Port and CBD



Temuka & Orari



Pleasant Point /
Winchester / Peel Forest



What the Council is doing

Timaru District Council carries out regular leak detection surveys using night flow testing. This involves:

  • The contractor isolates a water loss zone and performs a flow test to measure the water usage at a time when water consumption is considered to be lowest (i.e. at night, preferably winter). Known commercial high water consumers are monitored during the test.
  • If the night flow test result is high compared to previous tests then the contractor carries out a leak detection survey. This usually involves deploying acoustic loggers on valves and hydrants which indicate the general area of a leak, followed up with a walkover ground microphone survey to pinpoint the actual leak location.
  • Leaks on Council pipes are repaired, significant leaks on private property are reported to the property owner.
  • After all leaks on Council owned pipes have been repaired the contractor carries out a second-night flow test to confirm the night flow has reduced.
  • The night flow result and the number of water connections in each water loss zone are then used for calculating the overall leakage.

The above steps can take several weeks to complete for a single water loss zone if there are many leaks in a zone.

Future plans
Timaru District's water is precious and therefore, we want to continue utilising this resource in a sustainable manner. Water loss due to leakage is also costly because of electricity and the pumps that are used to distribute the water in parts of the network.

We have an ongoing programme of infrastructure renewals to replace ageing pipework. This helps reduce water loss in the public pipe network.

In the long term, Council will investigate creating permanent district metering areas as water loss reduction work is a continuous effort.

Last updated: 05 Apr 2023