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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

Philadelphia Water Announces Unprecedented Efforts to Help Customers with Lead Pipes

Philadelphia Water works hard to make sure the water we deliver tops all safety standards. Now, we're expanding our efforts to educate customers about lead plumbing and helping customers replace lead pipes. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Philadelphia Water works hard to make sure the water we deliver tops all safety standards. Now, we're expanding our efforts to educate customers about lead plumbing and helping customers replace their lead pipes. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Today, Philadelphia Water let City Council know about robust new efforts to educate customers about plumbing made from lead and announced new, unprecedented efforts that will help our customers get rid of their lead pipes once and for all.

Philadelphia Water Commissioner Debra A. McCarty answered questions and provided detailed information about our history of providing safe water, how we test for lead at customer’s taps, and new efforts to take lead pipes out of homes that will make Philadelphia a national leader on this issue.

We let Councilmembers know about six big things we’re doing right now to take on lead plumbing in Philadelphia:

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.

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PWD Director of Laboratory Services to EPA: Update Drinking Water Standards!

Water at the Bureau of Laboratory Sercives - PWD

Here at PWD, we have some of the nation's foremost thinkers and practitioners on water safety and quality.

One of those is Gary Burlingame, our Director of the Bureau of Laboratory Services. Gary oversees a staff of 120 people and an annual budget exceeding $10 million focused on drinking water, source water, wastewater, sediment, sludge, and more. He is a thought leader in the industry, widely published on the topic of the sensory aspects of drinking water—what you see, taste and smell in your water—having written about the topic for more than 25 years. He recently co-authored a report in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science and Technology, with Virginia Tech Professor Andrea Dietrich, calling for the EPA to improve its 50-year-old purity standards to catch up with what today’s technology allows us to detect and treat.

The report calls out the EPA for having outdated standards that don’t match advances in sensory science, changes in treatment practices, and modern attitudes and health expectations. It urges the EPA to review and rethink what are known as “secondary maximum contaminant levels” which provide guidance on the color, odor and other characteristics of drinking water not directly associated with health risk but still very important to the consumer. 

According to Burlingame and Dietrich, the EPA’s secondary contaminant standards are designed “to be a viable assessment of consumer acceptability and a means to instill confidence in tap water.” If consumers judge water that meets these standards as unacceptable, then it’s time for the standards to change.

PWD is proud to lead the way on drinking water quality. Burlingame’s work is one of many reasons why PWD has consistently been recognized with EPA Partnership for Safe Drinking Water awards for providing drinking water at purity standards higher than required by federal law. For us, the opinion of our customers about the quality of our water is a priority.

You can read more about Burlingame’s work with Professor Dietrich on Virginia Tech’s website or check out the report in its entirety

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