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in the sewer


Sewer System and Water Department

There are three types of sewers in the City of Philadephia. Some carry household and industrial waste only, some carry stormwater runoff, and some carry both.

Material in the Philadelphia sewer system flows by gravity to three different treatment plants.

Early sewers were round and made of brick. The construction process was slow and tedious because the main pipes were built completely by hand. Today, sewers are laid out in rectangular concrete sections. The sections are laid end-to-end and sealed together.

Doctors recommend that everyone drink at least eight glasses of water every day.

Drinking water for Philadelphia and surrounding areas comes from the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. The Philadelphia Water Department produces about 300 million gallons of high-quality drinking water every day. PWD's water service area covers 130 square miles.

At the end of the treatment process, Fluoride and Ammonia are added to the water. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, and Ammonia helps reduce the chlorine-like tastes.

Since the Clean Drinking Water Act was passed in the mid 1970s, the Philadelphia Water Department has met or exceeded every governemnt recommended level for water quality.

Philadelphia Water Figures (2000)

Total miles of water main 3,300
Water main breaks 849
Most breaks per month 202 - January
Least breaks per month 22 - April
Wastewater service area 360 square miles (130 city + 230 suburban)
Total wastewater population about 2.3 million people
Total miles of sewers 2,963.15 miles
Manholes 84,933
Stormwater inlets 75,000

Other Resources

Philadelphia Water Department
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Safe Drinking Water Hotline) 800-426-4791
Schuylkill River Source Water Assessment