On my walk along Merri Creek today I observed and reported another 4 drains which to me looked like they were running with water from a burst water main. The water was clear, flowing profusely, not smelling like a sewer, but perhaps with a hint of chlorine. This is in addition to the one I reported in January which as of writing hasn't been fixed.
I suspect these leaks generally go under the radar because the water is flowing underground into a drain and then into Merri Creek, and so not causing local chaos. Leaks bubbling up in a road or someone's front yard are much more likely to be reported and promptly fixed.
Between the 5 drains I estimated that they are losing 8.5 litres per second of drinking water into Merri Creek. If that were the average loss across the year (some leaks fixed, but new ones appearing to replace them) then in one year 268 million litres of drinking water would be going down the drain. That would be 0.2% of the 125 Gigalitres of water ordered by the Victorian Government this year from the desalination plant for $100 million.
But wait! These 5 drains are in one 6-kilometre section of Merri Creek. Undoubtedly there are more I haven't noticed on Merri Creek downstream and upstream from this section. And then on other waterways across Melbourne. And then there are the ones that leak into porous soil and are never noticed. If this section is typical across Melbourne, there would easily be 100 times as many leaks across Melbourne as I saw today. That would add up then to over 20% of the water purchased from the desalination plant just going down the drain. $20 million dollars down the drain that could have been spent on waterway restoration or schools or whatever.
It was easy to report these leaks. I used the phone app "Snap Send Solve", took a photo, confirmed the location, selected "Water leak" as the type of report, wrote a few words justifying why I thought the flow was a leak, Snap Send Solve identified Yarra Valley Water as the authority which I confirmed and clicked submit. A one minute job, but between us we could save millions! So if you see a leak, report it!
Edit 3 May 2019: Because Yarra Valley Water at this stage don't subscribe to get full Snap Send Solve reports, one of my reports didn't get through at all (Emma Street Fawkner), and of the 3 that did get through neither the description, nor the photo nor my contact details got through. So there was some confusion, and I had to clarify. Lesson: better to phone through reports to Yarra Valley Water direct. Of the 3 reports that did get through, some action had been taken on each, however no sources had yet been found for the leaks.