The responsibility for maintaining and repairing water pipes that carry water from the Council mains to your house is shared between the Council and the homeowner.

The boundary between public land and private property is the ‘point of supply’ where the Council’s water supply network connects to the private water network. At this point the responsibility for ownership and maintenance of the water pipe passes from the Council to the homeowner. 

The Council: pipe ownership and maintenance responsibilities

  • The Council owns and is responsible for maintenance of all water pipes and fittings up to the point of supply.
  • The Council owns and is responsible for maintenance of all water connection boxes (also known as the water meter box or toby box), including the pipes, valves and water meters within the connection box, whether installed on private property or public land. Connection boxes are normally, but not always, installed close to the property boundary. It is important to note that the point of supply is the boundary, not the connection box.
  • All pipes on private property protected by an easement in favour of the Council are owned and will be maintained by the Council.
  • A pipe which is owned by the Council and which is installed in private land or a Right of Way (ROW), principally for water supply networking purposes (with or without an easement in favour of the Council) will be maintained by the Council.
  • All pipes installed in private property (or ROW) fitted with fire hydrants for the benefit of more than one landowner will be maintained by the Council up to and including the hydrants.

The property owner: pipe ownership and maintenance responsibilities

  • All pipes within a single property title, and serving only that property, shall be maintained by the property owner(s) at their expense and effort.
  • Any pipe installed within an easement, and used only by those parties named in the easement documents, is owned by and will be maintained by the named parties at their expense and effort.
  • Pipes installed in a ROW and used by the owners of the ROW shall be maintained by the users of the pipe. Additional information can be found in our water supply pipes installed in private land policy.

Point of supply for individual customers

The most common situation is where a pipe carries water from the Council water main or submain to an individual house, as shown in Example 1 below.

The responsibilities for maintaining and repairing the pipe from the Council main to the house are shared between the property owner and the Council as follows:

  • The property owner is responsible for the maintenance of the ‘supply pipe’ (the section of pipe from the property boundary into the house).
  • The Council is responsible for the maintenance of the ‘service pipe’ (the section of pipe on public land between the Council water main and the property boundary).
  • The Council is responsible for the maintenance of the water connection box, whether it’s installed on private property or public land.

Example 1: Point of supply location for individual customers  

Point of supply location for individual customers

Example only - Exact point of supply may vary

Shared pipes in private property

It is common for multiple units (e.g. town houses or a block of apartments) on a single property title (e.g. a Cross Lease or Unit title) to share a water supply pipe, rather than each unit having one of their own. Two common examples of this situation are depicted in Example 2 below. In both examples, each unit shares a single supply pipe (known as the ‘common supply pipe’), with individually owned ‘branch’ pipes connecting separately to each unit.

The responsibilities for maintaining and repairing the pipe from the Council main to each unit are shared between the unit owners and the Council as follows:

  • The maintenance of the common supply pipe is the joint responsibility of all homeowners who are connected to this pipe.
  • Maintenance of a branch pipe to an individual property is the responsibility of the owner of that unit (because its sole purpose is to supply water to that unit).
  • The Council is responsible for the maintenance of the service pipe and all water connection boxes, whether installed on private property or public land.

Example 2: Shared pipes in private property

Shared pipes in private property

Example only - Exact point of supply may vary  

Shared pipes in a Private Lane or Private Right of Way

Private Lanes or Private Rights of Way (ROW) are privately owned and usually have a common supply pipe running along the lane/ROW that services multiple properties (see Example 3 below). As the lane/ROW is on private property, the common supply pipe is a private responsibility.

The responsibilities for maintaining and repairing the pipe from the Council main to each property are shared between the property owners and the Council as follows:

  • The maintenance of the common supply pipe is the joint responsibility of all the property owners who have houses connected to this pipe.
  • Maintenance of a branch pipe to an individual property is the responsibility of the owner of that property (because its sole purpose is to supply water to that property).
  • The Council is responsible for the maintenance of the service pipe (the section of pipe on public land between the Council main and the boundary with the Private Lane or Right of Way).
  • The Council is responsible for the maintenance of all connection boxes, whether installed in the Lane/ROW, private property or public land.

Example 3: Shared pipes in a Private Lane or Private Right of Way 

Shared pipes in a Private Lane or Private Right of Way

Example only - Exact point of supply may vary

Shared pipes with a fire hydrant installed in a Private Lane

As common supply pipes with fire hydrants installed require special valve keys (which are owned and operated by the Council’s maintenance contractor) to shut off the water supply from the Council main, the Council assumes responsibility for maintenance and repair of any pipe or fittings installed in a Private Lane or Right of Way that require the Council isolation valve in the street to be shut off.

The responsibilities for maintaining and repairing the common supply pipe are shared between the Council and property owners as follows:

  • The Council is responsible for the maintenance of the fire hydrant and the section of the common supply pipe from the boundary with public land up to and including any isolation valves.
  • Maintenance of any section of the common supply pipe that is beyond an isolation valve (i.e. any section of the common supply pipe that doesn’t require the main to be shut off) is the joint responsibility of all the property owners who have houses connected to this pipe.
  • Maintenance of a branch pipe to an individual property is the responsibility of the owner of that property (because its sole purpose is to supply water to that property).
  • The Council is responsible for the maintenance of the service pipe (the section of pipe on public land between the Council main and the boundary with the Private Lane or Right of Way).
  • The Council is responsible for the maintenance of all connection boxes, whether installed in the Lane/ROW, private property or public land.

Example 4: Shared pipes with a fire hydrant installed in a Private Lane

Shared pipes with a fire hydrant installed in a Private Lane

Example only - Exact point of supply may vary

Finding out the rights and responsibilities specific to your property

Your solicitor should have advised you of your rights and responsibilities when you purchased the property. The Certificate of Title to your land should show the ownership of the water pipes and other services in your property, including those in any easement, such as a Private Lane or Private Right of Way. Most lanes are privately owned – if you live in a lane but are unsure whether it is a private or public road, you should check the Certificate of Title to your land, which clearly marks the boundary between private land, public land and common land. You can also enquire with the Council.

What to do if you detect a leak

If you detect a leak on a section of pipe servicing your house that is either privately or collectively owned, a registered plumber can be engaged to fix the leak. If the pipe is in common ownership then you should talk to your neighbours prior to arranging for repairs to be carried out. The plumber should be advised that the leak is private and not a Council responsibility. 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 Technical Services Officer may be able to help or offer advice.

If you detect a leak on a pipe that you or your registered plumber believe is the Council’s responsibility, you can report a problem with water supply. 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, they will defer from making a repair and notify the person who contacted the Council about the leak to inform them that it is a private responsibility.