Guide to Water Mains

Water mains make transporting fresh, purified water from treatment facilities to residential and industrial zones possible.

To access city water wherever you’re located, you’ll need to connect to an existing potable water plumbing system composed of large water mains and secondary pipes typically located underground. These systems are closely monitored and designed to deliver safe drinking water across large expanses of land.

Understanding how water mains work, what they’re used for and a few of the relevant regulations can help you determine how your own construction project can gain access to them. Read on to learn all this and more.

What Are Water Mains?

When water treatment plants produce purified water that is safe for people to consume, they use water mains to push it all the way from their facilities to individual homes, businesses, farms and factories that need it. 

Think of water mains as arteries in a citywide water system. Private property owners connect their own systems to water mains so that they can access clean water every day. If water mains are the water system’s arteries, then the smaller, private systems in homes and building complexes that attach to it can be thought of as capillaries, feeding individual properties a steady supply of clean water. 

However, connecting homes and other private properties to water mains is not as simple as it seems. Water mains rarely, if ever, attach directly to consumer water systems. Instead, they pass through a number of secondary lines or “secondary feeders” that can then be connected on a case by case basis. Water mains must be carefully designed to ensure that they are safe and easy to maintain. Systems that connect to a city’s water mains should also be designed with care.

Water Main Design Standards

Requirements for a water mains installation in Sydney are complex. Among many factors that must be taken into account are differences between drinking water mains and non-drinking water mains, the latter of which are acceptable for some uses, but not ideal for most residential purposes.

A new water main installation is sometimes necessary where existing mains don’t cover a populated (or soon to be populated) area. In such cases, an accredited developer such as Fluid Services can assist in planning and installing appropriate structures. 

New water mains installations in Sydney must comply with Sydney Water’s design codes in order to be installed. Sydney Water specifies details such as per-lot main to meter requirements which vary by development type as well as frontage distances to mains, etc. 

A water main connection for new developments can also entail the construction of water main extensions. In some cases, when the original main’s size and scope are improved by the installation, the costs involved in developing these extensions are reimbursed by Sydney Water. However, it’s important to note that reimbursement for water main alterations is not guaranteed and full project costs should be considered ahead of time.

Key Considerations For a New Water Main Installation

As we touched on above, the design of a new water main or even an extension of an existing one is normally something only accredited developers and contractors can do.

Abiding by your city’s codes and specifications is not optional. Providers dictate what is and is not acceptable for new water mains with little room — if any at all — for deviation. Here are a few important considerations for new water main installations:

  • Contractors need to know how to test mains water pressure. In many cases, results of proper water pressure testing will need to be certified to count.
  • Replacing a main water line from meter to house is fundamentally different from a water main extension. In the case of a line replacement on a given property, located before the city water connection point, private installation standards must be followed. However, such a task is significantly smaller in scope than extensions or alterations of city water mains.
  • Water mains should be designed with potential for breaks in mind. When water mains are developed, the codes they must adhere to help keep them from endangering people in the event of a serious rupture or break in the pipes.

For private main water lines, there are a number of factors that can be optimised to better suit your budget and timeframe. For instance, choosing inexpensive PVC piping for residential use is a simple way to cut costs, as is handling excavation on your own. These tactics are not always an option though, as water temperatures and available equipment determine whether they are feasible for you to handle alone.

Water mains are essential for pumping potable water to homes and businesses everywhere. For more information, reach out to the experts at Fluid Services.  

Water Main Drilling Services

No Mains Water Supply?

Obtaining access to water mains is a tricky task best left to professionals. Apart from following strict codes and guidelines, private projects looking to tie into water mains must also account for mains alterations and extensions if necessary. 

Choosing a partner that can guarantee effective designs and installations in accordance with all relevant regulations can save your time and stress.

Our team is skilled at water main construction, and our accreditation makes drilling and tapping water mains for your projects possible without the usual wait. We handle all aspects of the main drilling operation, including connections, planning and safety precautions. We can assist with both water main upgrades and water main connection to a house.

Steps in the process of drilling and tapping a water main include the following:

  1. Inspection and Cleaning – When a water main is located for use, it must first be inspected to ensure it is in good condition. At this stage, cleaning can take place, ensuring the exposed main pipe is safe to work on without contaminating the water supply.
  2. Saddling and Tapping – Once the water main has been carefully inspected and properly cleaned, tapping can take place. At this stage, a special tapping machine is mounted onto the main pipe with a “saddle” that helps it create a watertight seal. A skilled operator maneuvers an appropriately sized tapping drill bit into the main pipe, then caps the new opening with minimal water loss. The potential for damage to city water mains makes this type of work exclusive to skilled and accredited providers. Partnering with the best ensures that your connection is made with high attention to detail.
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