Ashland’s New Gravity Water System Will Upgrade Firefighting and 100-Year-Old Pipelines

ASHLAND, Ore. — A new gravity waterline will upgrade the water supply system in Ashland. The gravity pipe will flow from the Reeder Reservoir and provide a more reliable and higher-pressure water source for firefighting in the upper edges of Ashland. The new gravity supply system will replace pipes installed over a century ago.


One Pumping Station Will No Longer be Required

The deputy director of Public Works, Mike Morrison, says the new gravity system will enable the city to do away with one of its pumping stations. Morrison explains that a water gravity system is more reliable and cheaper to move water than pumping stations.

Mechanical water pumping stations can fail periodically, and while Ashland does have backup pumps, a gravity system is less expensive to operate, explains Morrison.

An advantage of the Reeder Reservoir is that it is situated 400 feet above the highest point in the city, making it ideal for the new system that will feed water to sections of the city by natural flow, rather than by mechanical pump stations.


Ashland Water Supply System

The city’s water distribution system has over 70 miles of waterlines, five pump stations, 29 pressure-reducing stations, and 925 fire hydrants.

Ashlanders are acutely aware of the need for wildfire preparedness following the Almeda Fire on 8 September 2020 that reduced their city and the city of Medford to smoldering ruins. Many residents refused to leave their homes and three people died in the flames.

This event will remain engraved on the minds of residents who now realize that destructive urban fires can occur. It has also heightened the realization of the need for additional water supply and storage.

The Almeda Fire destroyed water pipelines, reducing water pressure as water seeped out of the pipes, and valves were gutted by the flames.

Related: State Grant Made Available To Eligible Fire Victims Of The 2020 Labor Day Fires.


The Need to Prepare for Wildfires

Besides making the new gravity system supply more reliable for Ashlanders, it will also provide a more reliable pressurized water supply for wildfire fighting. Unlike the Almedia Fire, when water pipes were consumed by flames releasing precious supplies into the ground, a gravity system will ensure supply from the Reeder Reservoir.

The Almeda Fire gridlocked roads as panicked residents tried to flee the area, there was no siren alert system, and infrastructures and buildings were reduced to ash by flames that could not be extinguished without a pressurized system.


Water Supply Upgrades Since Almeda

Since the Almeda Fire, a new water reservoir has been constructed in Rapp Road, Talent. The reservoir has a 5-million-gallon storage capacity, increasing from three million gallons in 2020.

Further primary water supplies have been provided at the East and West Forks of Ashland Creek, according to the city’s most recent master plan for water supply. This water is stored in the Reeder Reservoir and then released to the water treatment plant. Supplemental water supplies are provided by the Talent Irrigation District (TID) and from the Talent-Ashland-Phoenix (TAP) district.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Ashland is 21,348 people.




Morning Brief Newsletter
Sign up today for our daily newsletter, a quick overview of top local stories and Oregon breaking news delivered directly to your inbox
You can unsubscribe at any time
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.