Don’t Use Tap Water in Philadelphia Sunday Afternoon, City Officials Warn
Update: Philadelphia's Water Is Now Safe Through 11:59 pm Monday
Officials say that Philadlephia's water supply will be safe through Monday night.
Updated info from the Water Department shows that the affected water wouldn't arrive in the system to customers until after 11:59 pm on Monday evening, they say.
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If you live in some Philadelphia neighborhoods, avoid drinking or cooking with tap water on Sunday (March 26), officials say. The advisory goes into effect at 2 pm on Sunday (March 26).
A chemical spill that occurred in Bristol, PA (Bucks County) on Friday is the reason for the warning, which was issued just after 11 am on Sunday. Officials are continuing to monitor the effects after latex debris spilled into the water late Friday night.
As of Sunday morning, no contamination had been reported in the city's drinking water, but they caution that may change by Sunday afternoon. Long lines were already reported at grocery stores as bottled water immediately vanished from the shelves as shoppers panicked.
"We expect there is no risk they will be present before 2 p.m. today (Sunday, March 26)," the Philadelphia Water Department said. "We are notifying the public that they may wish not to drink or cook with tap water."
The city issued a Public Safety Alert (which you likely heard as a loud warning from your cell phone) just after 1 pm on Sunday.
CHAOS! Long Lines at Grocery Stores as Water Sells Out
Testing will continue throughout the day as officials work to gain more information about the possible effects on the city's water supply.
The city's drinking water plant’s intakes were opened between 12:15 a.m. and 5 a.m. this morning to maintain minimal levels of water in the system “to avoid any damage to our equipment, and to continue to supply water for essential needs, including fire safety," officials said.
As a result, the city is at risk for contamination now.
"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 bottle water to further minimize any risk," the Water Department wrote in a statement issued on Sunday.
The statement was issued by Michael Carrol, the Deputy Managing Director for the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS) at 11:30 am on Sunday.
They also issued a map of the neighborhoods in Philadelphia that could be potentially affected by the contaminated water. We've posted that map here.
Essentially, all neighborhoods east of the Schuylkill River are affected. You can click here to zoom in on the map as well.
Is It Safe to Dine Out in Philadelphia on Sunday?
Restaurants and food businesses will be safe conducting their normal business through lunchtime up until 2 p.m., the city says.
It's unclear, however, if that will change or if restaurants will change practices later in the day. You may want to call ahead to restuarants to make sure they'll still be serving this afternoon.
Is it Safe to Bath or Wash Dishes in Philadelphia on Sunday?
That's also ok, officials say.
"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," Carrol said.
How Dangerous is it to Drink Philadelphia's Water on Sunday?
As for what effects the exposure to this may have on someone's health, they expect that to be minimal.
"I want to reiterate that the health risk is very low if present at all. No acute effects are associated with low-level exposure," the Water Department says.
As for Friday's incident, The Coast Guard is working with other agencies to clean up the spill. It's estimated that 8,100 gallons of latex fishing material was released into the local water supply. They're working to clean the contaminated areas.