36-inch water main break in Old City


It happened around 12:30 Saturday afternoon near 3rd and Walnut streets.

More than one million gallons of water rushed up from a ruptured pipe in Old City Saturday.

"I walked over to the kitchen sink to rinse a teacup out and we had no water at that point," said Maria Bozzi.

And then Maria Bozzi looked out her window and saw water gushing from a ruptured a 36-inch water main at 3rd and Walnut Streets.

"I saw the water coming up out of the street," she said.

Upwards of one million gallons of water rushed onto the streets at a high rate of pressure that knocked a mailbox to the ground, turned local streets into streams, and formed sizable, murky puddles.

Area blocks were immediately shut down.

"There was a significant loss of water which caused a loss of pressure throughout a large part of Center City and South Philadelphia," said Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug.

Residents experienced low water pressure but very little damage, and there were no reports of injuries.

The Philadelphia Water Department says their crews were initially called to the intersection to investigate a leaky pipe. When crews uncovered the pipe in question, the main ruptured. What was expected to be a minor leak became a major problem, and crews quickly rushed to turn off 4 connecting valves.

"The valves were all over the place, Center City and South Philadelphia," said Mayor Michael Nutter.

Within about 90 minutes water stopped pouring out of the ground, and with the help of several utility companies, the scene was under control.

"They did an excellent job in a remarkable period of time," said Mayor Nutter.

PWD are asking any customers still experiencing low water pressure to call 215-685-6300, and to report any damage.


The intersection of 3rd and Walnut Street remains closed from Locust to Chestnut along 3rd, and 2nd to 4th on Walnut Street.

PWD and the Streets Department will be assessing the damage and the area of the street impacted by the water main break for necessary repairs.

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