A massive water main broke in the early morning hours Tuesday, causing 15 million gallons of water to gush into Center City streets, mucking up traffic and killing power to hundreds in the midst of a heat wave.
Streets were starting to dry out around noon, but city officials said it would take days to repair the damage.
The 48-inch transmission water main broke around 4 a.m. near Sansom and Juniper streets, according to the Philadelphia Water Department, flooding sidewalks and roads with roughly six inches of water. Hundreds of city workers struggled for hours to get the broken water main under control. They managed to shut it down just before 8 a.m., but the area was expected to be impacted throughout the day. Philadelphians were advised to avoid the area from Locust to Chestnut and Broad to 12th.
The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Response warned of residual traffic delays due to the crisis. The water department said city water was safe to drink despite the main break.
“No contamination,” @PhillyH20 tweeted after the incident. “Breaks can dislodge rust or sediment in pipes. Flush your pipes until water runs clear. We advise a hose bib or laundry sink. Something with a larger opening, if possible.”
Video of the early morning main break showed a river of murky water rushing through the streets, picking up a traffic cone in its current. Photographs taken later in the day showed city workers trekking through muddy streets and sidewalks.
PFD responded shortly before 4 a.m. to a 48-inch water main break in Center City. We continue to work with many city agencies at the scene. pic.twitter.com/VUOmOiPTXk
— Philadelphia Fire (@PhillyFireDept) July 3, 2018
This is bananas. 13th and Walnut in Center City. @KYWNewsradio pic.twitter.com/kJCMNtGRvk
— Tim Jimenez (@TimJRadio) July 3, 2018
SEPTA detours and street closures caused by water main break
SEPTA buses experienced detours due to the water main break street closures, including buses on Rte 9, 12, 21, 23, 42 and 45. City officials said multiple affected streets would be closed until further notice. Those roads include:
-Sansom from Broad to 12th
-Juniper from Chestnut to Locust
-13th from Locust to Chestnut
-12th from Chestnut to Locust
-Walnut from 11th to Broad
The city’s extreme heat may have been to blame for the water main break, according to water department spokesman John DiGiulio, who told ABC 6 that it’s likely customers were using more water than usual which can put stress on the main.
Residents around Center City and South Philly saw water pressure decrease due to the break, though fire officials said water service would be fully restored throughout the day.