Pipes, mains, lines – these water infrastructure words have been a hot topic in the Philadelphia news the past few weeks. On Sunday, July 22nd, a pipe measuring 4 feet in diameter ruptured at the intersection of 21st and Bainbridge, flooding the street and closing the intersection. Since then, water service has been restored to the neighborhood, the pipe has been replaced, and construction is underway to repair the intersection.

Following this break, another 48-inch main cracked in Northeast Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Water Department tracks and repairs mains all year, but these unfortunate breaks have given people a rare glimpse of the massive infrastructure under our feet (and a chance to grab some great photos). Over 3,000 miles of water main crisscross the ground under Philadelphia streets, and the Water Department has several programs to help prevent pipe failures including leak detection tests and regular inspection of water and sewer lines.

In addition to regular repairs and replacements, PWD is working to upgrade the water supply and wastewater removal systems, including a special focus on green infrastructure. Proper investment in critical infrastructure will lead to fewer breaks in the future. Several articles have been published about the recent water main breaks and these two from Philly.com focus on the importance of infrastructure in our City’s history, and in its future:

Karen Heller, Sunday 8/5/12

Editorial, 8/2/12

For more information about the status of repairs for large water main breaks and long term projects, visit our Alerts page: http://www.phillywatersheds.org/alerts

And for general information about the cause of water main breaks and what the Philadelphia Water Department is doing to repair and replace aging infrastructure, check out our Main Breaks page.