Updates about the July 3 water main break at Sansom and Juniper streets.

Update: September 6

Read September 6 Update Letter to Customers
  • Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) contractor, JPC, has made repairs to the sewer in the washout and backfilled the excavation to prepare for the water main replacement.
  • Utility coordination is still taking place to ensure the safety of all the workers, and the stability of utility services in the area.
  • PWD and JPC worked with the management team at the Philadelphia Building to relocate equipment to make sure we have full access to the site as needed.
  • Exact measurements need to be taken of the existing mains to make sure the properly sized fittings are ordered for replacement.
  • Site specific signage was placed around the neighborhood, on the fencing, and on some other building locations.
  • Additional signage was distributed to each individual business, and some larger banners were offered to some businesses as well.

Update: August 16

Brendan Reilly, Water Conveyance Chief at the Philadelphia Water Department, made the main break site available for inspection by impacted parties and their experts on August 17th, 18th and 20th.

Update: August 15

The repair work was awarded to JPC Inc., with Notice to Proceed issued Monday, August 6th. Work is underway.

General construction signage is present. Additional site-specific signage will come soon. This signage plan was developed by PWD, Midtown Village, and the Center City District.

A full-time PWD inspector, Dan Mantour, will be on site during construction hours, from 6:00 am – 3:00 pm. Questions or concerns about deliveries, trash pickup, site maintenance, etc., should be directed to Dan. He may also be reached via email.

Read the letter delivered to customers on August 14th.

Update: August 8

Guidelines for the Inspection & Preservation of PWD Facilities

TAKE NOTICE: All persons having interest in the July 3, 2018 water main break that occurred at or near South Juniper and Sansom Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (“subject location”). Effective immediately, these guidelines are being established for the inspection and preservation of City of Philadelphia utilities and street openings at or near the subject location.

Update: July 25

Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Debra McCarty and additional staff met with Midtown Village business owners on July 25 to provide updates and answer questions as work continues to repair the water main and street. The nearly two-hour meeting took place at the Holiday Inn on Walnut Street.

A full FAQ that was provided to impacted customers can be found here.

“We have taken great pains to minimize impacts to businesses,” Commissioner McCarty told those in attendance following a 15-minute presentation. “If something is bothering you, please get in touch right away.”

People with homes and businesses in the area have been given a direct line of contact to the team coordinating repairs.

Representatives from Philadelphia Gas Works, PECO, City Council, and the City's Commerce Department and the Office of Emergency Management also attended the meeting and spoke with customers.

Water Department staff responded to concerns about dirt from the construction site and will be working to schedule street cleaning around the intersection.

The department is also working with area businesses to create emergency signage showing what businesses are open and how to safely reach them. Currently, a number of utilities with pipes, cables and other infrastructure impacted by the main break are completing repairs needed to make the work site safe so that main replacement can begin.

The dense the infrastructure network below the street was displayed during the meeting to demonstrate the challenges utility crews face in the complex repair process:

This image shows the many types of infrastructure running beneath the impacted street.

Click to enlarge

This job is being bid under an emergency contract and a private contractor will begin replacing the water main and lining the damaged sewer as soon as possible. After that work is complete and other utilities have repaired and relocated their infrastructure, the roadway and sidewalks will be restored to fully reopen the intersection.

Check back here or see our notifications page for major updates.
Don't forget to subscribe to our email and text alerts, and follow us on Twitter or Facebook

July 3, 2018: A a 48-inch transmission main, which supplies water to a large section of South Philadelphia and Center City, broke at Juniper and Sansom streets at around 4 a.m.

The Water Department responded within minutes. The water main was shut down at approximately 7 a.m. The Water Department crews are working around the clock to pump water from properties and to ensure that claims adjusters go door to door to identify any businesses or homes that were flooded or damaged.

We ask that all businesses or residents that have not seen someone from the PWD and have experienced damage contact our hotline at (215) 685-6300. Documentation of such damage is essential to ensure eligibility for the assistance of PWD in the cleanup and reimbursement for lost goods.

Media Inquiries:

John DiGiulio (215) 317-0611
Laura Copeland (215) 685-4902

Street Closure Maps
updated at 3 p.m. July 3, 2018

12th, 13th, and Juniper Streets are currently closed between Chestnut and Locust. Sansom is closed from from Broad to 12th, and Walnut from Broad to 11th.Juniper St. between Chesnut and Walnut, and Sansom St. from Broad to 13th, will remain closed during repairs to the water main.

Click a map to view larger version

Facts about this water main break:

  • Location: Juniper & Sansom
  • Water Main Size, Age and Material: 48-inch transmission main, 1927, Cast iron
  • Cause of break: unknown at this time. Once the broken section of main is removed, it will be analyzed
  • Time/date of break: July 3 at approx. 4 a.m.
  • Water Loss: between 14-15 million gallons
  • Water pressure: back to normal
  • Flooded properties: Approx. 30-40 properties
  • Damage to other utilities: Still assessing
  • Impact to businesses: Some flooded to full basement; still assessing extent

Customer Impacts:

  • PWD claims adjusters on site
  • Customers experiencing low water pressure should flush their service for 3–5 minutes by turning on the tap at the lowest level of their home, e.g. utility sink or kitchen faucet. Multi-story properties should flush their services for a longer period and flush backflow preventers
  • A PWD info tent will be located at 13th and Sansom streets on Thursday, July 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – PWD claims representatives and Public Affairs staff will be available

Infrastructure Investment

  • $188+ million budgeted through 2021 to replace pipes + mains
  • 380 city blocks targeted for main replacement this year
  • 715 water main breaks repaired in FY 2017
  • 816 miles of inspected mains in 2017

Next Steps:

  • Cleanup to restore impacted streets and get businesses back into business
  • Cave-in location made safe
  • Assess impact to other utilities and sewer
  • Repair damaged infrastructure
  • Restore street
  • Too early to provide a time estimate for this work

PWD appreciates our customers’ patience during this emergency work, as any water main break of this magnitude can be messy and disruptive.

For more info:

Subscribe to our email and text alerts here.
Follow us on Twitter or Facebook

Check out this video to learn more about how PWD responds to Water Main Breaks: