• Bellevue Water System & Leak Management

    About Bellevue's water system

    More than 37,000 homes across Bellevue’s service area are connected to the city’s over 600 miles of pressurized water main. Bellevue’s drinking water system is complex due to its topography, which ranges from 20 feet above sea level on the shores of Lake Washington to over 1,400 feet above sea level near Cougar Mountain.

    Active management to maintain water system health

    The Utilities Department actively maintains its water infrastructure, which includes pipes, reservoirs, pump stations, pressure zones and fire hydrants, through regular maintenance, repair or rehabilitation, and replacement. Through the city’s progressive watermain replacement program, we replace about 5 miles – or 26,000 linear feet – of water pipeline each year, which helps to keep our water main breaks well below the national average.

    Our asset management program collects and analyzes key data on the water system. This can include the size and material of water pipe, history of breaks, and other factors that can affect the health and longevity of the pipe. Utilities uses this data to inform capital planning efforts and prioritize water mains for repair or replacement.

    Low annual break rate on average

    Bellevue has about 30 water main breaks per year, which is very low compared to the national average for a system of Bellevue’s size. The city’s efforts to prevent and manage water leaks help keep this rate low. In addition to actively replacing pipes, Utilities performs regular leak detection on pipes throughout the city. When leaks and breaks occur, crews mobilize quickly to perform necessary repairs. Then we analyze information from the break to help determine whether to replace a pipe section, considering risk and the potential for future watermain breaks.

    How to spot and report possible water line breaks

    The city maintains all water mains and service lines that are in the public right of way or city-owned easements. The homeowner is responsible for their private line that runs from the water meter to the home.

    If you see water bubbling up or gushing from the road in the right-of-way, please contact the city’s 24-hour emergency line immediately at 425-452-7840. The city relies on reports from our residents to help us identify and fix small leaks before they become large breaks. Some areas have high amounts of naturally occurring groundwater. If necessary, the city can test the water to determine if it is drinking water or groundwater.

    Help for homeowners to manage private system leaks

    Several resources are available to help homeowners recognize the signs of possible water leaks on your private water line and/or home plumbing, and take steps to address them. As with all leaks, spotting small issues and fixing them quickly is key to preventing larger leaks or pipe bursts. 

    Common warning signs of home leaks can include:

    • Any obvious dripping faucet or fixture – often caused by a broken rubber seal
    • Continually or intermittently running toilets – most often caused by a loose flapper
    • Water pooling up from under an appliance, such as a washing machine, refrigerator, or dishwasher
    • Pooling water in areas of your landscape, or a wet spot that never dries on concrete
    • A higher-than-normal water bill, which can indicate a leak somewhere on your property

    Homeowner resources