PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Stop buying cases of bottled water, say city officials. Based on the latest tests of Philadelphia's water supply, they say they are confident that tap water from Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant will remain safe to drink through 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 27.
City update: Water supply is safe
An earlier advisory on Sunday, that residents getting water from the plant might opt for bottled water, was issued out of an abundance of caution. Testing has not shown the presence of water affected by a chemical spill that happened in a Delaware River tributary in Bucks County on Friday.
Stores in the area have been reporting a run on their stock of bottled water, but city officials say there is no need to buy water at this time.
Earlier on Sunday, representatives from the Water Department and the Office of Emergency Management met to discuss the scope of the chemical spill.
Even then, said Water Department Commissioner Randy Heyman, "No contamination has reached our water system."
According to officials, this situation arose after the Coast Guard monitored the release of a "water-soluble acrylic polymer solution" into Otter Creek shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Friday.
The Coast Guard estimated about 8,100 gallons of this latex finishing material was released when a pipe burst at Trinseo, a chemical plant in Wayne, officials said.
Michael Carroll, deputy manager for the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, said while contaminants had not yet been found in Philadelphia's water supply, there was no certainty that tap water would be safe all day.
A later tweet from the Philadelphia Water Department indicated that subsequent testing showed Philly's water is safe.
Other companies like Aqua Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania American Water said their systems were not affected by the spill and the water is safe to use.
View potentially affected areas
Residents can search for their address in this interactive map to see if they would be in an area potentially affected by the spill, in the event that the city issues an advisory later.
Official statement — Monday, 1:30 p.m.
The Philadelphia Water Department is confident that tap water from the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant will remain safe to drink and use at least through 11:59 p.m. today (Monday, March 27, 2023.) This assurance is due to the treatment and continuous testing of water that is currently available to residents. The City will provide an update to the public at 5 p.m. today, Monday, March 27, 2023.
PWD will continue to track the spill closely. If at any point the water quality sampling indicates a potential impact to the river water entering the Baxter Water Treatment Plant, we will notify the public immediately.
This spill could potentially affect the water treated at the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant. Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant does not service all of Philadelphia. The City’s other two treatment plants draw water from the Schuylkill River which was not impacted by the spill.
The water that is currently available to customers has been treated and tested to confirm that it is safe to drink and use for bathing, cooking, and washing.
Residents who want to make sure they have water available can fill bottles or pitchers with tap water with no risk at this time.
• To get alerts about drinking water quality, sign up for ReadyPhiladelphia by texting READYPHILA to 888-777 for free phone alerts or customize free text and email alerts by visiting the Office of Emergency Management’s website at www.phila.gov/ready.
• For official updates from the City, follow @PhilaOEM on Twitter or Facebook.
• Other City Twitter accounts to follow for information: @PhiladelphiaGov and @PhillyH2O.
Official statement — Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
The following statement was posted Sunday afternoon on the City of Philadelphia website. Information shared here was confirmed in a press conference shortly after 5 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 of areas that could potentially be impacted by the spill: https://phillyh2o.info/spill-map
Statement from New Jersey — Sunday, 6:45 p.m.
The following statement is from New Jersey American Water:
The health and safety of our customers is our top priority.
New Jersey American Water is monitoring the water quality of the Delaware River following a chemical release that occurred early this morning from a manufacturing plant into a tributary of the river in Bristol, Pa. The company is maintaining regular communication with state and federal agencies regarding the situation.
At this time there is no impact to the source water outside of the company’s Delaware River Regional Water Treatment Plant. We will continue to monitor the source water and provide updates if we receive additional information or there are any developments.
KYW Newsradio's Nina Baratti and Tim Jimenez contributed to this report.