SJW crew fixing a street leak at sunset

Leak Repairs

With 2,400 miles of water mains to maintain, San Jose Water (SJW) knows a thing or two about leaks. Do you know all the steps it takes to manage a large-scale repair?  

Let’s delve into our process for investigating, troubleshooting and repairing street leaks and talk about what to expect if you discover a water main leak. 

1. Water Leak is Reported 

There are multiple ways to report water main leaks to SJW: 

2. SJW Identifies and Categorizes the Leak 

Based on initial reports, our service inspectors are dispatched to confirm the type and severity of the reported leak. Leaks are categorized by escalating severity: Code 1, 2 or 3. Leaks that pose a threat to public safety are our first priority. 

  • Code 1: Water is observed without much pooling 
  • Code 2: There is indication of pooled water with runoff down the street 
  • Code 3: There is a severe leak with gushing water 

A repair tag is entered into SJW’s electronic maintenance database so SJW can manage, track and prioritize leaks. 

3. Call Before You Dig 


Safety first! There are many buried utilities under our local roads. Before digging to make a repair, we activate an Underground Service Alert, also known as a USA ticket, as mandated by law. This alert notifies other gas, electrical, and cable utilities of our intention to work on-site. 

This standard practice ensures the safety and protection of our own personnel, the public, and other underground utilities. Utilities have two business days to mark underground infrastructure — allowing SJW to avoid them during repairs. Our Distribution Service Inspectors mark existing water lines so that repairs can begin safely. Distribution Service (DS) Inspectors perform critical work day in and day out. Just a few of their responsibilities include: marking existing water lines before any excavation begins, locating leaks in mains and service lines, performing hydrant and valve maintenance, and operating the vacuum excavator truck. Learn more about SJW’s amazing Distribution Service Inspectors. 

Keeping customers in the loop is a priority. If repair work is taking place immediately, we will notify customers in person. If there is a planned outage, we notify customers by letter or phone call. We makes every effort to minimize the number of customers affected by service disruptions during maintenance activities.  


4. Repairing the Leak 

Once clearance to begin repairs is received, SJW can start excavating the ground and making all necessary repairs in a safe and efficient manner.  

We repair all leaks with a clear focus on safety, priority and the law. It’s not usually possible to repair all leaks as soon as they are discovered. However, we are committed to repairing leaks as quickly as we can to minimize water loss.