Denver Water operates and maintains more than 3,000 miles of pipe — enough to stretch from L.A. to New York. The pipes that carry clean drinking water to your home vary in size, from ½-inch-diameter customer-owned service lines to 108-inch-diameter distribution pipes.
Of the more than 60 billion gallons of water we treat each year, less than 1% of that water is lost because of leaks. Many factors can contribute to leaks, including pipe age, material, soil corrosivity, water flow, temperature and more.
Denver Water has several proactive programs in place to identify and prevent potential leaks while upgrading our infrastructure, including:
Leak detection: This program has saved an estimated 138 million gallons of water over the past 5 years. Underground (non-surfacing) leaks found through our leak detection program account for about 0.03% of the water we treat each year.
Pipe replacement: We proactively install or replace an average of 80,000 feet of pipe throughout our service area per year.
Pressure regulating valve maintenance and replacement: This program allows us to replace or repair the valves that regulate the 160 pressure zones in our system.
Corrosion control: We have more than 4,000 test sites on pipes throughout our system to help us calculate how quickly pipes are corroding. When possible, we will replace or install cathodic protection systems – a technique used to protect metal surfaces from corrosion – and will use the information collected from these test sites to decide which pipes need to be replaced before they cause major damage.
If you think you see a leak in the street, call our emergency services line at 303-628-6801. If a leak is suspected, we will dispatch a crew to investigate.
Why hasn't this leak been fixed?
Sometimes, leaks from underground pipes make their way to the surface and become visible. Although crews may not be on-site, Denver Water is likely aware of the leak and is already planning repairs.
Reasons we might not fix a leak right away include:
- Permitting constraints.
If the leak does not pose an emergency that creates an immediate health or safety hazard, Denver Water must obtain a permit through the appropriate city, county or entity (such as railroads) before making repairs. Our repair schedule may also be impacted by traffic control and noise ordinance requirements, special events, other construction projects or existing traffic control in the area.
- Minimizing public impacts.
Often, we need to turn off water to some customers when repairing a leak. When repairs impact schools and childcare facilities, medical facilities or first responders, repairs may be delayed while we work with them to minimize impacts as much as possible. We do our best to maintain access to businesses and accommodate special events, whenever possible.
- Planning and coordination.
Some repairs take more time to plan and coordinate, extending the overall timeline. For example, leaks on larger pipes or infrastructure, or near other construction projects, may require more time to repair and longer water outages that affect more customers. Some construction materials may also take a while to acquire, depending on availability.
- Higher priority work.
While Denver Water has emergency response crews available around-the-clock, there are times when we must prioritize other work before addressing a smaller leak.