Leaks and breaks

If this is a water emergency call

EBMUD is working to reduce leaks and water loss from our system, but main breaks happen for various reasons as part of operating a large water distribution system. Check for water outages near you. 

We maintain more than 4,200 miles of pipeline, some of which is nearly a century old. Corrosion, ground movement, soil conditions, variations in water pressure, contractor work and other factors can affect water pipes. 

Who to call when reporting a break or leak

Call EBMUD anytime at 1-866-403-2683. When reporting a leak, the following information is helpful:

  • The location: The street name, intersection or address

  • Is there damage? Street damage, flooding

What happens once a break is reported?

Investigation begins  
An EBMUD investigator will assess the leak severity at the location and take actions to reduce the risk to public safety, property and the environment. Investigators do their best to respond within one hour, but higher priority leaks may take precedence. 

On arrival, the investigator will deploy dechlorination and sedimentation controls. The investigator will close valves to reduce or stop the water, resulting in a water service outage for customers. For most emergencies, crews must work quickly to repair the pipe, and are unable to notify affected customers.

Locate and mark utility lines for safe digging
Just like all excavators, we call 811 to notify other agencies and utilities to mark the underground locations of gas, electricity, sewer and communications lines. This step is required by law and ensures EBMUD can dig without damaging other utility lines or endangering our employees and the public. Unless the break is an emergency, we must allow at least two working days for other utilities to locate their lines.

Prioritize repair
We prioritize the repair based on the investigator’s findings and other work in the service area. The status of all active repairs is constantly assessed and prioritized to dispatch the next available repair crew.

Repair Process
Crews pinpoint the leak using electronic or manual sounding devices to determine the location and confirm the leak is from an EBMUD pipe. Next, crews will dig and repair the water service line or pipe. The repair may require applying a clamp or replacing a pipe section. Water service may be disrupted during the repair. Then, crews will open valves required to turn the water main back on, flush the water main and sample for water quality. The excavated area will be backfilled and temporarily repaved, until crews return at a later date to permanently resurface the area. 

Frequently asked questions about leaks and breaks 

If you have no water, it is advised that you shut the water supply valves to toilets in your home. Once water is restored, run water through your front hose bib (the outdoor faucet at the front of the house) until the water runs clear. Also run cold water from the faucets inside the home for 1-3 minutes until the water is clear. Then turn your toilets back on.

Most pipeline repairs can be completed in six hours or less. Larger, more complicated repairs may require more time. Crews sometimes work for hours to locate the leak and then repair the line. Certain repairs can take longer if special equipment is needed or if there are other utilities in the area that need work first. Our priority is to safely resume service to customers as quickly as possible. Water service will be resumed after repairs are complete and EBMUD has tested the line. 

EBMUD responds to emergencies and conducts emergency maintenance repairs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. Non-emergency planned maintenance is typically scheduled during normal business hours. Sometimes, non-emergency work may be done after hours to minimize traffic, business, or other concerns. 

During construction, temporary paving is applied to provide a safe road surface for driving. When construction work is completed, EBMUD crews return to permanently resurface the street (this may take 30 days or longer based on weather and workload). Learn more about paving.    

Yes. EBMUD crews follow rigorous procedures to ensure that pipes are clean when responding to a break.

Call EBMUD Customer Service at 1-866-403-2683 and ask for Risk Management.

EBMUD repairs leaks to its water meters and water mains.

Leaks on the customer's side of the meter, including the pipe between the meter and the building, the irrigation system, or indoor plumbing, are the responsibility of the customer.

EBMUD does not repair leaks to sewer lines. Cities, counties, and property owners maintain sewer pipelines and are responsible for repairing these leaks. 

First contact your neighbor and inform them about their leak. If you are not able to contact them and feel the leak may cause damage to your property or the property of others, then call EBMUD at 1-866-403-2683 and ask that your neighbor's meter be turned off.

If it is determined that the leak is severe or may cause damage, and your neighbor is unaware of the leak or cannot be reached, EBMUD will turn off the water and leave a note informing the neighbor of the action taken.

EBMUD is proactively replacing its pipelines to improve water service, reduce water loss and the number of pipeline breaks in the service area. Learn about EBMUD’s Pipeline Replacement Program.

Repairs are prioritized based on severity of the leak, impacts to customer service, public safety and the environment, the probability of property damage, unsafe traffic conditions, and other considerations.

Large leaks causing water outages and those that might impact public safety/environment or cause property damage are typically repaired as soon as possible. If the leak is small, the repair order is held to schedule the work and allow for notification of customers and other utilities.

Unless the break is an emergency, we must allow at least two working days for other agencies and utilities to locate utility lines such as gas, electricity, sewer, communications, etc.

EBMUD uses chloramine, a mix of chlorine and ammonia, to disinfect drinking water. Chloramines are necessary for delivering water that is safe for humans, but it is not good for fish. EBMUD uses fabric mats with treatment tablets to remove chloramine from the water released from pipe breaks and broken hydrants before it reaches storm drains, nearby streams or the Bay.