A day in the life of our repair crew
What sort of work do you do each day?
We repair burst water mains, repair leaking water mains, manage sewer spills, unblock sewer mains, use CCTV in drains and sewer mains and reinstate nature strips. All our works can impact the general public. We activate our response team to assess and repair a fault as soon they are reported and assessed and use specialised equipment to locate leaks and unblock drains to rectify the fault as quickly as possible.
The work we do varies immensely from supporting the community at local events with a portable drinking fountain, to assisting the local fire brigade with emergency response and setting up temporary water supplies to ensure the public has water. Then there are the daily maintenance activities which are 24/7, 365 days of the year. We have responded, completed and maintained close to 18,000 jobs since July 2017.
How many sites do you visit in a typical day?
In a particular day I can attend up to 20 repair jobs and solve some really big issues for our customers. The number of site visits can vary depending on the work. Customers contact City West Water to report issues 24 hours a day and these jobs are assessed and prioritised. These repair works are often complex and many factors and variables have to be taken into account including public safety, managing risk and maintaining water supply.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Our repair and maintenance work can be quite tricky. Some of the challenges we face including working in some high risk safety areas, in drains and sewer pipes, entering people’s backyards to get access to an asset, work in road ways, driveways and sometimes businesses to locate and repair the issue.
Some jobs take 5 minutes, but some can take up to two days to repair and it could be as little has replacing a water tap or fixing a water meter to shutting down a large pipe to repair a significant burst that is flooding houses, which has been damaged by a third party. We do our best to ensure the water is restored ASAP but sometimes jobs can take longer than expected.
When we can, we will supply bottled water or provide another source of water for any houses or businesses that are affected.
Sometimes we have come back in the evening to complete repairs, so we can turn the water off when people go to sleep to minimise the impact to the public. So when the customer wakes up they have water and their toilet flushes.
There are many reasons and variables for jobs taking longer to repair including:
- Other key utilities’ sensitive assets such as fibre optic cables, power, oil, and gas infrastructure which require additional support to ensure the site is safe
- Traffic management
- Large or complex industrial businesses
- Special needs customers (e.g. dialysis machines), doctors’ surgeries, walk in clinics. In the times we do encounter a lengthy outage we support the community and provide a temporary water supply.
How does the volume of work fluctuate depending on weather conditions?
Seasonal conditions often impact our daily service to customers.
Our recent dry spell has caused soil to dry out very rapidly, leading to ground shifts which can then damage our mains. Repair times can then rise due to the sheer volume of faults this weather causes. The wetter season also has its effects and causes a lot of movement from trees which cause issues to our network.
When we have a lot of jobs on, it may be necessary to re- prioritise the reported faults. This is done by carefully monitoring the condition of the impacted mains, the risk the main will have on the surrounding area if the damage worsens, the number of customers in which may be effected and the number of faults in the area.
Why do some jobs require multiple visits to be fully reinstated and back to normal?
When we have a lot of repair work to resolve, it may look like we are not monitoring or attending our reported faults, but this is absolutely not the case. We respond to every reported fault raised by customers and highlight this by leaving identification tape with the City West Water branding. If we have performed work within a customer’s property we will leave a card with further details.
Further monitoring also takes place by our people who will escalate any fault if this is deemed to need more urgent attention.
What sort of supplies and assistance do you provide to our customers while works are being undertaken?
We offer support and assistance to all our customers including:
- Temporary water supply if a customer is out of water for several hours
- Assistance for customers with additional needs
- Planning repair works to minimise impacts on the community, where possible
- Priority work for key customers – Hospitals, medical centres, etc
- Planned water outage notifications via letter drops and social media updates.