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    Philadelphia water: Chemical spill in Bucks County, PA sparks concern over drinking water safety in Philly

    BRISTOL, Pennsylvania — The Philadelphia Water Department says it is confident that tap water is safe to drink through Monday night after a chemical spill in the Delaware River north of Philadelphia in Bucks County.

    Officials made the announcement at 3:30 p.m. Sunday based on updated hydraulic modeling and the latest sampling results and data from Philadelphia’s Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant.

    Earlier in the day, officials recommended Philadelphia residents buy bottled water as a precaution.

    But they then stressed that the city’s tap water was safe to drink for the time being.

    “The Philadelphia Water Department is now confident tap water from the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant will remain safe to drink and use at least through 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 27, 2023. There is no need to buy water at this time. Customers can fill bottles or pitchers with tap water with no risk at this time,” said officials.

    This updated guidance was based on the time it will take river water that entered the Baxter intakes early Sunday morning to move through treatment and water mains before reaching customers.

    Officials said intakes to the city’s Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant were closed after the spill, but they were opened at 12:15 a.m. on March 26 to maintain minimal water levels to avoid damage to equipment and to supply water for fire safety and other other essential needs.

    PWD closed the intakes at 5 a.m. Sunday.

    While testing was underway, officials suggested residents should consider buying bottled water.

    But the latest results showed no contamination in the Philadelphia system, according to Mike Carroll, deputy managing director for Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation.

    “I want to reiterate there was never any contamination in Philadelphia Water Department’s system. There was contamination in the Delaware River, but we shut off the intake to the river and we’re operating off of water that was not contaminated. When we opened the intake, we were able to verify that we brought in water that was not contaminated. So currently there is no contamination in the Philadelphia system,” said Carroll during a Sunday afternoon briefing.

    The chemical spill has not impacted southern New Jersey residents, but New Jersey American Water issued a voluntary water conservation notice for customers in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.

    Customers in those counties were asked to limit their non-essential water use until further notice.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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