What manholes and water valves do

Manholes give City maintenance workers access to the sewer and water systems.


Manholes are round doorways into the City's water, stormwater, and sanitary sewers. The City's water & sewer crews access manholes to inspect and maintain the pipes that carry water, stormwater and wastewater. Sewer crews rarely enter the manhole - inspections are done from the top, using cameras to inspect the pipes. Water crews do enter their manholes to perform maintenance work.

A cast iron lid covers manholes. City manholes are marked "COV" or "City of Vancouver". Private utility companies like BC Hydro, Telus, and Shaw use separate manholes marked with their own company name to access their underground utility lines.

Water valves and valve covers

Valve boxes are covered with heavy metal lids.

Valves control the flow of water through the City's network of pipes, meters, and hydrants.

Valves are located several feet below ground level, and are accessed through a valve box.

The box is covered with a rectangular, heavy metal lid, which can be seen on road surfaces, sidewalks, and boulevards. Valve lids are marked with "VWW" for Vancouver Water Works.

Water service shut-off valve covers or caps

Valve covers or valve caps cover water shut-off valves.

Water service shut-off valves control the flow of water to properties, and can turn off water along a water service line if repairs are required.

Like valve lids, service shut-off valve covers, also known as valve caps, are marked with "VWW" for Vancouver Water Works.

Report a manhole or valve cover problem

Missing, damanged, or broken

Manhole covers and valve covers are dangerous to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers when they are missing or broken. Phone 3-1-1 as soon as possible to report these issues.

Loose or noisy

Report a loose or noisy manhole cover online and our crews will attend as soon as possible.

Report a loose manhole cover online

Leaking water

Phone 3-1-1 to report a cover or lid that is leaking water.

 If the cover is belongs to a private utility company, like BC Hydro, Telus, or Shaw, call the appropriate company.

Missing service shut-off valve caps on your property

You can also call 3-1-1 to request:

  • A replacement metal cap for a water service shut-off valve on your property.
  • Tile around valve caps, and valve caps be adjusted.

You do not need to be at home when our crew performs these services. Cap replacements and adjustments are a low priority, and will be done as crews are available in your area.

Art Underfoot competition

The storm sewer cover shown on this page was a winning entry in the Art Underfoot compettion held in 2004.

Find out more details about this work by Susan Point and Kelly Canell in the city's Public Art Registry.

Public Art Registry