UPDATE: March 26 3:30 p.m.
Based on updated hydraulic modeling and the latest sampling results and data, the Philadelphia Water Department is now confident tap water from the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant will remain safe to drink and use at least through 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 27, 2023.
There is no need to buy water at this time. Customers can fill bottles or pitchers with tap water with no risk at this time. We will provide a media update at approximately 5 p.m. today, Sunday, March 26, 2023
This updated time is based on the time it will take river water that entered the Baxter intakes early Sunday morning to move through treatment and water mains before reaching customers.
The water that is currently available to customers was treated before the spill reached Philadelphia and remains safe to drink and use for bathing, cooking, and washing.
The earlier advisory that customers receiving water from the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant may choose to drink bottled water on March 26 was issued out of an abundance of caution. Testing has not shown the presence of water impacted by the spill in the Baxter system at this time.
We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available through sampling and monitoring of river conditions.
The Philadelphia Water Department’s Tidal Spill Model Tool is being used to track contaminant plume movement and inform when the chemical spill will no longer impact the Philadelphia drinking water intakes.
Customers can use this map to view areas that could potentially be impacted by the spill: https://phillyh2o.info/spill-map
UPDATE March 26 11:30 a.m.
PWD continues to monitor a latex spill on the Delaware River that could impact Philadelphia drinking water.
The City of Philadelphia held a press conference to address the current information. You can view the conference on the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management Facebook feed.
A map of areas that could potentially be impacted by the spill can be viewed here: https://phillyh2o.info/spill-map
Search your address in the map to see if you would be in an impacted area should the city issue any advisory.
The following statement was issued by Michael Carrol, Deputy Managing Director for the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS):
“As has been reported, on Friday night, a chemical spill occurred in Bristol Township, Bucks County which released contaminants into the Delaware River. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) became aware of this through the Delaware Valley Early Warning System (EWS) and has been evaluating the situation since that time to understand potential impacts to the public. Although early indications have not revealed contamination, we are still monitoring the situation and conducting testing.
“At approximately 12:15 a.m. this morning (Sunday), the intakes at the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant were opened at high tide on the Delaware River and closed at approximately 5 a.m. This was done to maintain minimum levels of water in the system to avoid any damage to our equipment to continue supplying water for including fire safety and other needs. Contaminates have not been found in our system at this time. We expect there is no risk that will be present before 2 p.m. today.
“Nonetheless, because we cannot be 100 percent sure that there won’t be traces of these chemicals in the tap water throughout the afternoon, we want the public to be aware so that people can consider switching to bottled water to further minimize any risk. Therefore, we are notifying the public in the customer service area that they may wish not to drink or cook with tap water. We will update this information later this afternoon.
“I want to reiterate that the health risks are very low if present at all. No acute effects are associated with low level exposure. Our best information is that people who ingest water will not suffer any near-term symptoms or acute medical conditions. We foresee no reason to seek medical attention related to this event.
“Additionally, there is no concern over skin exposure or fire hazard. Bathing and washing dishes do not present a concern. Likewise, we have no concern over inhaling fumes at the levels we are evaluating.
“Again, this advisory is being issued out of an abundance of caution to prevent any theoretical, long-term public health impacts. Restaurants and food businesses will be safe conducting their normal business through lunch time up until 2 p.m.”
UPDATE March 25 6:03 p.m. The Philadelphia Water Department is monitoring a spill of a latex product that occurred along a Delaware River tributary in Bristol Township, Bucks County, late on Friday, March 24, 2023.
• This spill has not impacted treated drinking water being delivered to customers served by Philadelphia’s Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant.
• PWD has been tracking the incident since being alerted and is using computer models to monitor the flow of the spill.
• PWD staff are also monitoring conditions at the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant on the Delaware River and have closed intakes at this time.
The Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection reported the incident to the Delaware Valley Early Warning System to alert water users in the Delaware River and is responding at the scene with local authorities.
SOURCE PHILADLEPHIA WATER DEPARTMENT