Philly’s Water Main Problems Are About to Hit You Where It Hurts

Philly’s water main problems—there were numerous breaks over the summer (and one in University City this week)—aren’t actually any worse than usual. The city is among the oldest metropolitan areas in the country, so aging water pipes are always an issue.

Philadelphia’s water system has 3,100 miles of pipe, with an average age of about 70 years. Debra McCarty, the Water Department’s deputy commissioner for operations, said the city averages about 221 breaks for every thousand miles of pipe annually – below the national average of 270 breaks for every thousand miles.

Additionally, this year isn’t any worse than others.

There have been five transmission breaks – to pipes of more than 16 inches in diameter – in 2012 so far. In 2011, there were eight such breaks, said McCarty.

Philly spends about $60 million to replace 18 miles of pipe every year and residents are about to feel that figure dipping into their wallets. Water bills are expected to go up nearly 30 percent over the next four years.

Also, the intersection at 21st and Bainbridge—which fell victim to a water main break and subsequent sinkhole a few months back—is inching closer to becoming operational, again. [Daily News]