Water Department pleads for patience, citing doubling complaints

There were 117 water main breaks in January 2017. But just 15 days into January 2018, there have been 176 water main breaks reported across Philadelphia to the city’s Water Department. As of Jan. 17, there were some 170 leak investigations outstanding.

In other words, if it seems like everybody’s pipes are bursting this winter, it’s not just you.

The Philly Water Department has literally been working twice as hard during the recent deep freeze and “snow cyclone” to keep Philly’s plumbing in order this year, and they are still addressing problems in what has become an “extraordinarily busy time,” they said.

“We have crews working at an almost 24/7 pace right now, and we are attempting to address each issue brought to our attention as quickly as we can,” the Water Department said in a press release.

Due to the volume of problems, just getting to all the complaints has proven so difficult that the Water Department, for the first time ever and only on a temporary basis, will be accepting complaints through its Twitter and Facebook accounts, which will be monitored 9 a.m. through midnight seven days a week.

Each water main break takes some eight to 10 hours to repair, the Department said.

While customers with water main breaks can get their service line shut off or leaks at abandoned homes causing “causing property damage to a neighboring home,” some curb boxes are buried or broken, meaning they also go into a dayslong queue.

“Residents should also be aware that because of the tremendous number of leak reports, they may face wait times of 24 hours or more from the initiation of a complaint to the time an inspector arrives to do the initial inspection,” the Water Department said. “Once a cause is determined, it could then be several days before we have a crew available to make repairs to a broken water main, shut off a pipe to a vacant property, or turn off customer service lines that may be broken as well.”

To report a complaint, call 215-685-6300 or visit the Water Department’s social media pages.

By the numbers

Plumbing problems around Philly doubled in 2018 over the number of problems in 2017.

Christmas 2017Jan. 15, 2018

Water main breaks repaired

Services shut off at vacant properties causing flooding

Notices of Defect served on customer service lines

Leak investigations needed

Calls for leaks reported

Christmas 2016—Jan. 15, 2017

Water main breaks repaired

Services shut off at vacant properties causing flooding

Notices of Defect served on customer service lines

Leak investigations needed

Calls for leaks reported

Source: Philadelphia Water Department

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