ESCOSA content icon March 2016 water main burst event

  • Project Released: 17 Mar 2016
  • Project Closes: 23 Jun 2016
  • Contact: Natasha Cheshire


The Commission monitors and reports on SA Water’s performance against annual service standards targets and regulatory obligations, with public reporting occurring through the annual Regulatory Performance Report (RPR).

At times, however, events may occur during the year that warrant special ad hoc reporting outside of that standard framework. Those events are determined, and reviews are conducted, in accordance with the Commission’s significant performance event reporting framework for water.

On 7 March 2016, SA Water’s water distribution network experienced a series of bursts on a main in Campbelltown, Paradise and Newton. These bursts caused flooding to surrounding properties and constitute a significant performance event in accordance with the Commission’s significant performance event reporting framework for water.


Current status is Final

  • Initiate
  • Final


The Commission has completed a review of SA Water’s performance during the March 2016 water main burst event.

The Commission acknowledges the actions taken by SA Water to support residents in response to the bursts, however, it is of the view that if this incident had been declared in accordance with SA Water’s emergency management framework, the response may have been better coordinated and may have resulted in better outcomes for residents. The Commission considers that SA Water should:

  •  review its policies and procedures to formalise notification and other procedures for residents being impacted by property damage as a result of a burst (even if the supply of water has not been affected)
  • give consideration to the role contact centre staff play in identifying and escalating events which may be considered an emergency, including whether current procedures allow jobs to be escalated where multiple reports have been made alerting SA Water to an emergency situation, and 
  • consider the implementation of a more integrated communications strategy, as there would be benefit in SA Water maintaining reliable, accurate and timely information on its website to inform affected parties and stakeholders following significant or emergency events.

The Commission notes that SA Water has initiated its own review of the response processes in relation to major incidents, with a view to improving its processes. Further, an internal investigation is underway to determine why an emergency incident was not declared as intended by SA Water’s emergency response framework.

The Commission will continue to liaise with SA Water on these matters. Finalised observations and conclusions regarding the significant performance event beginning 7 March 2016 will be addressed in the Commission’s Regulatory Performance Report for SA Water, due to be released in late 2016.