PORTLAND -- The two-foot-wide cast iron pipe shuttling water under downtown Portland dates back nearly a century.

A 36-foot large section of it is getting replaced this week, due to the large water main break early Tuesday morning.

The Portland Water Bureau said it replaces between four and five miles of water mains each year, but prioritizes pipes made of ductile steel, which tend to fail more often, according to spokesman Ty Kovatch.

The city has 2,500 miles of water mains.

Although Kovatch said cast iron pipes tend to be more durable and that a major break in one is pretty rare, the city suffers around 200 water main breaks every year. Most occur between October and March.

Kovatch said there's no way to predict where or when a pipe may break and that Tuesday's burst could have been a lot worse.

KGW Reporter Mark Hanrahan contributed to this report.

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