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Don’t buy that plastic: Philly Tap Water is (Still) Safe for Residents According to New Report
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Don’t buy that plastic: Philly Tap Water is (Still) Safe for Residents According to New Report

Philadelphia Water has good news to share—the city’s drinking water meets or exceeds all state and federal water quality standards.

For those of you going plastic-free: you can keep on drinking that tap water.

The Philadelphia Water Department released its latest Drinking Water Quality Report on Monday.

The 23-page document discloses that Philadelphia’s drinking water meets or exceeds all state and federal water quality standards, according to data collected by the Bureau of Laboratory Services throughout 2019. This is fortunate news for the nearly 1.6 million Philadelphians to whom water is delivered each day.

2019 Drinking Water Quality Results

The Philadelphia Water Department examines the levels of approximately 100 regulated contaminants in their collected data, which fall in the categories of inorganic chemicals, synthetic organic chemicals, and volatile organic chemicals. They also test for temperature, cloudiness, and other components that affect water taste and odor.

Contaminants are measured in parts per billion (ppb) and parts per million (ppm). Ppb denotes one part per 1,000,000,000 parts, which is equivalent to half a teaspoon an Olympic sized swimming pool. Ppm follows the same logic and equates to two-thirds of a gallon in an Olympic pool.

The source column provides context for how contaminants like lead, copper, inorganic chemicals, and chlorine residuals are discharged into the water, and displays that even the most potentially unsafe contaminant levels meet or are better than the ideal goals administered by the EPA.

“I am confident in our water. Our employees are dedicated to protecting our rivers and treating our water to the highest standards so that we can protect your families, and ours, with safe and refreshing tap around the clock,” said Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Randy E. Hayman, Esq. in a press release.

The report was compiled by a team of experienced engineers and scientists who test the city’s drinking water for chemical contaminant compounds thousands of times each month. There is also 24/7 monitoring at a number of sites to ensure the safety of tap water across Philadelphia.

What About Lead?

You may be surprised to learn that lead is not found in your drinking water but may be present in your service line, old fixtures, or valves in the pipe system that delivers water to your home.

A screenshot of a social media post

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Visual courtesy of the Philadelphia Water Department 2019 Water Quality Report.

Even if you don’t have lead pipes, Philadelphia Water urges residents to ensure the health of their drinking water by following these three tips:

  1. Flush your pipes daily. Turn on the cold water for 3-5 minutes before using for the day.
  2. Always use cold water from the tap instead of hot.
  3. Clean your aerators on your sink.
Visual courtesy of the Philadelphia Water Department 2019 Water Quality Report.

Share the Report with Your Neighbors and Friends

The Water Department urges residents to share the write-up with friends, loved ones, and those who likely have not received a direct report about its publishing—like schools, businesses, nursing homes, and individuals in apartments. You can also help spread awareness by posting a notice in a public place or by requesting extra copies to share with community members.

The report includes helpful information about water test results, how to check for lead plumbing and programs, The Partnership for Safe Water, and the story behind the new Drink More Tap murals and where to see them.

Want to Get a Copy of the Report?

You can read the Philadelphia Water Quality Report online, call (215) 685-6300 to request it by mail, or email waterquality@phila.gov.

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Avery Matteo
Avery is a junior at Bryn Mawr College majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in English. She is currently an Editorial Intern at Green Philly. In her free time, you can find her curled up with an iced coffee, a book, and her adorable dog Cosmo. View all posts by Avery Matteo

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