Portland has fire hydrants every 1,000 feet as the crow flies. That's the standard spacing of fire hydrants in residential areas. In higher-density areas, the standard is every 500 feet. Downtown there are two hydrants for each intersection. Those numbers add up-- to 14,200 hydrants! Hydrants are color-coded to give important information to Portland's firefighters. If you're really intrigued, here is some more info on the history of Portland's fire hydrants.
Flow & Pressure
Property owners are responsible for the condition of all plumbing and pipes that water flows through after it leaves the water meter at the street. Some water flow problems are temporary. The Portland Water Bureau provides water to all services with a minimum pressure at the water meter of 20 pounds per square inch (psi). Most homes receive water at a pressure of 40-80 psi. We monitor pressure throughout Portland.
Pumps & Pump Stations
Most customers are served by gravity flow. Gravity flow reduces dependence on pumping and its expensive energy needs. It is a reliable method of piping water to facilities and customers. At higher elevations pumps deliver water to customers that cannot be served by gravity feed.
- The oldest tanks date from 1907 and 1909. Portland's newest tank dates from 2001.
- Some tank sites now have a second use. They are improved as HydroParks – serving both the community as part of the water system and offering tranquil greenspace to nearby residents.
- Water flows through the tanks continuously. Portland Water Bureau control center operators monitor the flows and levels in the tanks to ensure that the water reaching customers’ faucets is clean, cold, and fresh. Water does not “sit” or stagnate in the tanks.
- The water in some tanks in the water system is pumped up to the tank. During power outages the bureau is prepared to deploy back-up generators to ensure reliable supply or has installed generators that start automatically.
- While the tanks are scattered throughout the City for in-town storage, to regulate distribution pressure and to add capacity for fire suppression, they generally do not supply water to the immediate homes and businesses surrounding them. Those homes may be served by a tank that is nearby but at a higher elevation.
More than 2,000 miles of pipe deliver water throughout the Portland metropolitan area. That's a lot of pipe that water rate payers maintain. Some mains are 100-years-old -- that's "aging infrastructure" in the bureau's budget discussions.
Property owners are responsible for the condition of all plumbing and pipes that water flows through after it leaves the water meter at the street.