Water Main Leak in Street or Sidewalk – Who is Responsible?

April 27, 2021

It is just about every site visit that our customers will ask “why am I responsible for a leaking water main below city property”? The truth is that this question makes perfect sense and is completely reasonable!

In NYC the city is not responsible for the water main or sewer that runs from your house to the city water main. Even if your house was located on a major thoroughfare 100′ away from the city connection, you would still be responsible for repairing the leaking water main.

The only way that the city would be responsible for repairing a leak in the street or sidewalk is if the leak was coming from the city pipes. You may ask about the connection point where your pipe connects to the city pipe. This connection point which is known as the tap or wet connection is the responsibility of the property owner as well.

It is important to understand that the city must drill and install the new connections on the city main if it is leaking but the property owner is still responsible for the cost associated with the plumber digging, preparing the city main, permits and the cost that the licensed plumber must pay DEP for the installation.

Leaking tap on the city main
Leaking tap on the city main

If you have become aware that there is water leaking in front of your house this does not necessarily mean that the leak is coming from your water main pipe. It is always suggested to call your city agency to perform an investigation and assist in determining where the water leak is coming from. Most commonly the city will perform a noise test to assist determining where the leak is coming from. This may include entering your neighbors basement and even digging a test hole in the street if they are not 100% certain.

You can also call your licensed plumber for a professional opinion and a noise test on your pipe but it is suggested to let the city come out first as they may have relevant information specific to existing leaks on your street.


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