Getting it to Your Tap
Upon completion of the Treatment Process, the potable water is distributed through a vast system of water main (pipe), valves, storage tanks, fire hydrants, and booster stations that we call our distribution system. This distribution system ensures that an average of 10 million gallons per day is distributed to our customers (your tap) and that emergency fire flows are available at the time of need for our local fire departments. The distribution system serves over 34,000 customers in 21 townships and boroughs in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. A map illustrating our service area can be seen at Service Area. To see the process from source to the customer's home or business, click here.
The largest component of the distribution system is the water mains that transport the water throughout our system. NPWA has 575 miles of water main ranging in size from 2” diameter to 36” diameter. The Authority’s water main system is comprised of various types of materials including: 80% ductile iron, 16% cast iron, and 4% of galvanized or plastic main. A common question related to water mains is how the water is kept clean inside the water mains. The water mains are kept clean by NPWA’s aggressive flushing and cleaning program. Flushing is done by opening fire hydrants and letting the water rush out of the water main at a high velocity. The velocity of the water will remove rust and microbes that cling to the pipe’s inner wall, which is why the water appears discolored at the starting of a flowing hydrant but quickly clears up. Flushing is generally completed in the spring so please check out our flushing notices on our bills or at Press Release for dates and times.
As noted above fire hydrants serve an important role in keeping the distribution system clean and well maintained but the most important role of the fire hydrant is for use during emergencies. NPWA has over 3,600 fire hydrants available for use 24/7 by fire departments and emergency personnel in our service territory. Our hydrants are color coded to assist fire departments in firefighting efforts. Our employees annually check and operate each hydrant to ensure proper operation in the event of an emergency.
In addition, over 11,500 valves are placed in strategic locations within the water main system. It is very important that all those valves operate properly whenever they are called upon to open or close. This is especially critical during a water main break when it is necessary to quickly shut down flow in a section of main (pipe), to isolate the problem and minimize the extent of the neighborhood impacted until repairs can be completed and service fully restored. In our efforts to continuously improve service to our customers, NPWA has implemented a new preventative maintenance effort that will ensure that all valves remain in good operating condition, using a specially equipped valve operating truck, staff inspect, operate, and repair all 11,500 valves on a regularly scheduled basis, ensuring that the Authority’s critical infrastructure is well maintained.
Water storage tanks are another part of the distribution system that ensures that the water is available for our customers. There are two main reasons that storage facilities are utilized; first storage facilities ensure that water pressure and water volume are sufficient to fight fires and other emergencies. Secondly, the water stored is also available for residential use by our customers in the event of an emergency. NPWA currently operates eight separate storage facilities that can store up to 17.85 million gallons of water.
In conjunction with storage facilities, NPWA also utilizes booster stations that utilize pumps to increase (boost) water pressure to certain areas of the distribution system due to higher elevations. NPWA currently operates seven pressure booster stations within the distribution system.
As one can see, with over 570 miles of main, 11,500 valves, 3,600 hydrants and 17.85 million gallons of water storage, it takes a dedicated workforce and efficient operations to ensure the safety and dependability of the water that is supplied to all of our customers on a daily basis.