Plumbing triage on your streets


Water reaches your tap through an underground system of more than 4,200 miles of pipes called mains. When pipes leak, main breaks occur. Breaks can happen daily because of ground movement, corrosion, soil conditions or age. Last year, EBMUD crews fixed a record-breaking 1,155 main breaks—about three per day.

But if more than one main needs repair at a time, how do we decide which leak gets fixed first?

Leak repairs are prioritized based on how big their impact is on people and streets. When an EBMUD leak investigator arrives at a main break, he or she categorizes the break as either an emergency that must be repaired immediately or a leak that can hold for at least one day.

If a main break is classified as an emergency, a repair crew is sent out right away—day or night. We won’t leave the job site until the pipe is fixed and the water is turned back on. Most emergency breaks are repaired within eight hours.

If the leak is small enough, it is put in the repair queue. Most non-emergency breaks are repaired within one to seven days. They may look minor, but because they could be indicative of a larger, more significant break somewhere down the pipeline, those leaks are monitored and fixed as soon as a crew is available.

To view the latest information about emergency water shutdowns in your area, visit To report a water emergency, call us at 1-866-403-2683.