Drinking Water Quality Report

Latest Philadelphia Water Quality Data Out Now

See our latest water quality data at phila.gov/water or request a free copy at 215 685 6300.
Our 2016 water quality data is out. Read the report by clicking the image above or request free copies at 215.685.6300 or waterinfo@phila.gov

Philadelphia residents have 24/7 access to top-quality water, a fact that they check themselves thanks to annual reports the Philadelphia Water Department releases detailing a year's worth of data.

This transparency is a defining quality for public water providers like PWD, and we take pride in the tremendous effort that goes into the constant monitoring done at our labs.

During our most recent fiscal year, we delivered nearly 82 billion gallons of water to local homes, businesses, schools and other organizations. On average, our customers used 223 million gallons of clean water every single day.   

Making sure that water is great water that beats Safe Drinking Water Act standards is what drives us, and we're proud to provide this year's reportthe result of more than 10,000 monthly lab tests conducted by our scientists during 2016.

Read it now in English or Spanish or check out the audio version.     

In addition to the water quality data, you will find info about:

  • New programs and efforts to remove lead service lines from customer properties and educate people about getting safe water when your home does have lead pipes
  • How we get water from the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers and what we do to protect our source water and watersheds
  • Why we help residents build landscaped rain gardens in their yards with matching funds of up to $2,000
  • How we monitor the water, what we look for and how our scientists deal with issues as they emerge
  • New educational programs offered through the Fairmount Water Works
  • What you can do to care for our source water at home
  • Who to call if you suspect illegal dumping in waterways or storm drain inlets
  • Local watershed groups looking for volunteers 

Give it a read now and let others know where to find this valuable information.

To receive a printed copy of this report in the mail, contact our Public Affairs staff at waterquality@phila.gov

Celebrity Endorsement? Jill Scott Says It's All About Philly's Water

Public utilities like Philadelphia Water don't to tend to get too many celebrity endorsements, but we came pretty close yesterday when Philly icon Jill Scott appeared on the Steve Harvey Show and divulged our city’s secret to producing so many strong musical voices.

According to Scott, it’s all about the water:

Spoiler Alert: Our Drinking Water Quality Is Really, Really Good

A section of the 2015 Drinking Water Quality Report showing how we treat tap water. Click for a larger image. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

A section of the 2015 Drinking Water Quality Report showing how we treat tap water. Click for a larger image. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Apologies to anyone looking forward to reading our annual Drinking Water Quality Report down the shore this summer, but we just have to get this out there: All the data we collected for the 2015 report confirms our rigorous treatment and testing are resulting in top-quality tap water that meets or beats all quality standards set by the federal government.

Of course, we knew that going in, but we put out the Drinking Water Quality Report—now available online in English and Spanish—every year because we believe our customers are empowered by having all the information that’s out there about their drinking water and what we do to make it safe and available to 1.7 million people 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Our annual Drinking Water Quality Report tells the story of how we make this happen through our continuous treatment, testing, and monitoring,” Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug writes in the introduction. “This report, published in the spring of 2015, includes water quality information for the 2014 calendar year. We, along with our partners at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, hope you take the time to look this document over and, if you have any questions, my staff and I would be very pleased to discuss.”

Looking at this year’s report, we’re proud to say that our water consistently meets (and often exceeds) the quality criteria set by the EPA; we go above and beyond what is required, producing approximately 275 million gallons of drinking water every day that exceed national safety standards.

How do we do it?

It starts with fighting to protect our source waters—the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers—from pollution. We follow that up with cutting-edge treatment techniques at our three drinking water plants, and maintain thousands of miles of pipes to make sure the water gets to customers safely and efficiently.
But one of our most important tools in every step of the process is sophisticated testing.

“Philadelphia Water conducts laboratory tests on river water, water being treated, water being sent to our customers, and wastewater coming back from our customers,” says Gary Burlingame, director of our Bureau of Laboratory Services division. “The regulations do not require all of this testing, only a basic minimum. We go beyond the minimum to continually check on the quality of the water throughout the city.”

Philadelphia Water collects more than 2,500 water samples every month, says Burlingame, resulting in more than 10,000 monthly lab tests at various stages of the urban water cycle.

“Because we collect so many lab test results every month, we have a specialized data management system to store and organize the thousands of data points that are entered,” Burlingame says. “Then, just as important, we have scientists and engineers who review the data continually to make sure that the quality standards that we set are being met.”

In addition to important information about our testing results and treatment process, the report is packed with useful things like contact numbers and tips for getting involved in protecting your local streams, rivers and water supply.

You can download a copy of the full report from Phila.gov/water in English here and in Spanish here.

While we send out notices about the report to all customers, not everyone knows it’s available.
Please share this information with all the other people who drink our water, especially those who may not have received a notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses). You can help by posting this blog on social media, by putting a copy of the report in a public place, or by distributing copies by hand or mail.

To receive a printed copy of this report, please email: waterquality@phila.gov.

Want to stay up to date on the latest Green City, Clean Waters news and get important Philadelphia Water updates? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter now by clicking here!

Raise a glass to celebrate 40 Years of the Safe Drinking Water Act!

Photo by Bill Kelly

Happy Birthday, Safe Water Drinking Act!
You truly are getting better with age!


On December 16, 1974, President Gerald R. Ford signed Washington Democratic Senator Warren Magnuson’s Senate Bill 433 into law creating Public Law 93-523: the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The law went into effect the next day and authorized the EPA “to set national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water.”

The law has been amended twice (1986 and 1996) to include many actions that protect drinking water and the rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs and wells that supply it. As part of our compliance with the EPA’s regulations, PWD produces an annual Drinking Water Quality Report  and maintains a Source Water Protection Program that has made our Delaware and Schuylkill watersheds cleaner now than they have been in over a century! Of course we still face many challenges to keeping our rivers and drinking water clean, but, hey, it’s what we love to do!

Most of us don’t give a second thought when we put our glass under our tap and fill it with water. And that’s true whether we’re taking that drink here in Philadelphia or in a hotel in Hawaii or a campground in Alaska. Aside from very rare instances (and for PWD customers, so rare to be virtually non-existent), the water from our tap can be trusted to be clean and safe, in part, because of compliance with the SDWA and the billions of dollars of infrastructure investment that keeping in compliance has required. That we can take our tap for granted is even more amazing when you consider how many parts of the world—for lack of funding, dysfunctional governments, or natural shortages—spend a major part of their daily lives finding drinkable water.

To hear PWD Commissioner Neukrug's interview on WHYY's RadioTimes about the Safe Drinking Water Act, click here.

Did you know....

  • In Philadelphia the cost of 50 glasses of water is less than a penny!
  • PWD monitors Philadelphia's water 24/7 at three treatment and at checkpoints throughout our delivery system.
  • It's estimated that 25% to 40% of all bottled water is taken from the municpal water supply. 
  • There is more fresh water in the atmosphere than in all of the rivers on the planet combined.
  • 75% of a chicken, 80% of a pineapple, and 95% of a tomato is water.
  • It is possible for people today to drink water that was part of the dinosaur era!

To celebrate, raise a glass of cool, delicious (and safe) tap water (or eight ten-ounce glasses if you want to get the 2.5 quarts the EPA recommends you drink to “maintain health”) and read up on what YOU can do as an individual to help US keep your drinking water clean and safe.

Photo credit: Bill Kelly
sources: Philadelphia Water Department, EPA water trivia page, EPA's Drinking Water Facts and Figures

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