Morning Headlines: Could Philly Have Flint-Style Problems With Its Drinking Water?

Plus: Penn students figure out how to speed up beer production.

Good morning Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know.

Could Philly have a Flint-like problem with its drinking water? The Guardian says yes. Local officials say no.

The Guardian reported last week that “water authorities across the U.S. are systematically distorting water tests to downplay the amount of lead in samples” and that it had seen documents suggesting Philadelphia was among those cities. KYW reports the Philadelphia Water Department’s director of lab services, Gary Burlingame, denies the allegation. “We live in the city, we care about the water, I drink the water,” he said. “Believe me, if there was a lead problem, I would have been screaming years ago.” Philadelphia’s lead content in the water averages around six parts per billion, he said — well within EPA standards, and far below the levels found in Flint, Michigan.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto: Alan Butkovitz wants the city to use drones to do inspections and deliver services.

The city controller on Wednesday issued a report saying its office had used a drone to inspect and identify dangerous buildings in several neighborhoods, 6ABC reports. “The use of drones to inspect properties would not be a substitute to professional inspections conducted by licensed city inspectors,” Butkovitz said. “It would not eliminate inspectors or other agency staff needed to perform important, daily tasks. He said drones could also be used to survey traffic, monitor which streets are plowed after snowstorms, and do other tasks; other cities are using drones to monitor construction sites, do bridge inspections, and inspect utility infrastructure. “Drones can cover a larger distance in a shorter amount of time,” the report says, “allowing inspectors to cover more ground and have the ability to view high-quality videos and photographs.”

For the first time ever, two African-American women will lead Philadelphia courts. reports the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced the decision on Wednesday. Judge Jacqueline F. Allen will serve as administrative judge of the trial division of Common Pleas Court, while Judge Sheila A. Woods-Skipper, already the president judge of Common Pleas Court, will chair the system’s administrative governing board, which includes members of the Common Pleas Court, Municipal Court, Orphans Court and Family Court. The appointments follow a campaign by city leaders who had noted that neither a woman nor an African American had served as administrative judge in the post’s history. “We’re making progress,” said State Sen. Anthony Williams.

Councilman Mark Squilla wants Philly Police to have a registry of every working DJ and musician in the city.

“Giving performers’ information to police when requested enables them to review past performances to see if there were any public safety issues during their events,” Squilla told Billy Penn. Police would factor “crime, traffic, litter, noise, parking and hours of operation; as well as any community concerns, particularly those of neighbors in the immediate vicinity” into its reviews of prospective shows. But one show promoter, Sean Agnew of R5 Productions, suggests the proposal is unworkable. “I’m just trying to think of a situation where the police want the addresses and numbers of the 10+ members of Arcade Fire,” he said. “Seems really intense.”

A trio of Penn students has figured out how to speed up the fermentation process. Yes, they’re going to use it to make beer production faster.

KYW reports the three — Wharton students Siddarth Shah and Shashwata Narain, along with engineering student Alexander David — won Penn’s $10,000 Y-Prize, which invites members of the campus community to think up new applications for existing Penn technology. The trio figured out how to shorten fermentation from three weeks to one week — and, yup, beer companies are calling. “We are all beer lovers in some way or another,” Narain said. “And so, being able to apply a new technology to better this kind of process is not just a big thing for the beer industry, but also the larger food processing industry as a whole.”

Get morning headlines in your inbox: Sign up here.