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Philadelphia Water Quality: Then & Now
The City of Brotherly Love sits in the crux of 2 mighty rivers, the Schuylkill and Delaware. Even with fresh water on both sides of the city, colonial Philadelphia was fraught with frequent and widespread epidemics. In the 1700s, Philadelphians often dumped industrial waste and human sewage into the creeks and streams, and disease-causing contaminants decreased the Philadelphia water quality.
An increase in water pollution drove the city to innovate and build one of the country’s first water and wastewater systems. Surface creeks and streams provided the framework for this infrastructure to improve Philadelphia water quality. Sewers in creek beds cost-effectively used gravity flow to move the wastewater away from the city, allowing city planners to create a grid layout.
Unfortunately, the systematic erasing of surface creeks and streams impacted the natural waterflow. Of the 283 miles of streams that once carried runoff to the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, only 118 miles remained. It wasn’t until the early 20th Century that city planners realized the negative effects of piping streams. In 1815, they combined the beauty of nature and the science of engineering to create the awe-inspiring Fairmount Water Works, praised for its pleasant Neoclassical exterior and cutting-edge water supply system. (Check out the video below to learn more about Fairmount Water Works.)
To further improve Philadelphia water quality and curb sewage pollution, lawmakers passed the Purity of Water Act in 1905. Although not enforced until the 1950s, the act combatted sewage-filled intake sources by adding chlorine to filtered water. Philadelphia drinking water earned the nickname “Schuylkill Punch” for its chlorinous smell and earthy, musty scent from algae growth.
Today, Philadelphia has 3 water treatment plants to remove harmful chemicals, wastes, and pathogens which can contaminate river water. The city still adds chlorine and other chemicals to protect Philadelphia tap water from bacteria and other organisms, although ammonia reduces the chlorine taste and odor.
The Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers continue to supply approximately 230 million gallons of groundwater daily, and the Schuylkill River in particular has become a National Heritage Area and a scenic river walk. Like many older cities, most of Philadelphia’s water mains and infrastructure consist of cast iron pipes, the industry standard until the mid-1960s. The average age of a Philadelphia water line is about 80 years old, with some pipes dating back to the early 1800s. Older cast iron pipes are prone to corrosion and biofilm contamination from chemical reactions, which create clusters of corrosion and bacteria along the inside of the pipe. Sometimes these clusters break off and travel with your water to your faucet, resulting in cloudiness, red water, and off-taste and odor.
The Philadelphia corrosion control monitoring program has sought to minimize contamination caused by indoor pipes by installing a coating that protects lead from leaching into the water. Programs introduced in 2016 have further helped residents replace lead service lines, and water treatment plants add Zinc Orthophosphate to minimize pipe corrosion. The enforcement of stricter drinking water standards has successfully reduced water turbidity to meet regulatory requirements. However, a recent study by The Environmental Working Group found that Philadelphia tap water ranks among the most contaminated of any major US metropolitan area.
Quench Water Coolers –
A Better Drinking Water System for Philadelphia
Worried about the chlorine, ammonia, lead, and possible other chemical contaminants that may have seeped into your drinking water since it left the Philadelphia water treatment plant? We are too, and that’s why we’re here to help. Quench offers a full complement of water filtration and sanitization technologies to remove sediment, reduce chemical contaminants, including lead, and get rid of off-tastes and odors. Depending on your local water quality, your Quench Water Expert may recommend our NSF-certified carbon filtration, which works great for water with TDS (total dissolved solids) levels under 250 ppm (parts per million) or our NSF-certified reverse osmosis (RO) filtration, which is the gold standard for water with TDS levels over 250 ppm. By creating a customized water filtration solution and tailoring your installation and service needs for your business, we can guarantee that Quench office water coolers produce crisp, clean, great-tasting water – and at a fraction of the price of bottled water delivery services. Go bottle free with Quench and you will save time, money, and the environment, plus you will have better tasting and safer drinking water!
Quench Proudly Serves More Than 60,000 Customers Nationwide
I want to thank the team at Quench for the quick, professional installation of our new water system. You and your installation team made the process very simple and timely from start to finish. I highly recommend your product as an alternative to water bottles!
Nationwide Service with Local Presence
Quench’s dedicated customer team stands behind every installation. You’ll always find a well-trained, friendly human at the other end of the phone, and all service is performed by insured, certified Quench-badged technicians. Our customer service promise includes proactive preventive maintenance, filter changes, and all service and support. We worry about your drinking water, so you don’t have to.
Proudly providing businesses with clean, filtered drinking water in the greater Philadelphia Metro Area, including Philadelphia City and County, Delaware County PA, Bucks County PA, Chester County PA, Montgomery County PA, Berks County PA, Lehigh County PA, Lancaster County PA, Atlantic County NJ, Gloucester County NJ, Burlington County NJ, Camden County NJ. Wilmington and New Castle County DE.
Quench Filtration Solutions
For over 20 years, Quench has focused exclusively on providing businesses with the highest quality filtered water. This commitment to doing one thing well has made us the trusted water authority for over 50% of the Fortune 500. We offer the best bottleless water coolers, ice machines, sparkling water dispensers, and coffee brewers to fit any workplace. No matter your location, company size, or industry, we have a filtered water solution that is right for you!