30-inch water main break floods South Philadelphia streets

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Contributed date

August 12, 2021 - 4:56pm

Critical Commentary

The geyser-like disruption that emerged in Philly on July 25th later at night caused severe damages, upwards of $1 million, considering that is how much one collector lost in art and paintings. The Water Department offered to pump out any water, mud, or other debris in people's basements that were caused by the huge flooding. The water on this 150-year-old main pipe is now shut-off and to fix it, the water department said, will take a long while. What does this mean for residents? It means that, like what is discussed in Mattern (2019)'s maintenance and care, deferred maintenance is surely a recipe for disaster. In the words of scholar Knowles, the main pipe bursting was a slow disaster waiting to happen, following a series of compounded routine maintenance gone awry. The Water Department put forth their emergency hotline for anyone still experiencing issues with their water pressure and said water should be restored to the affected buildings as soon as possible. In the meantime, however, households will simply have to cope with this major disruption. It is unfortunate that, in the words of Seeman (2019), infrastructures become visible only when they fail.


Holton, B. (2021, July 25). "30-Inch water main break floods South Philadelphia streets." Philly Voice. https://www.phillyvoice.com/philadelphia-water-main-break-queen-village

Cite as

Brooks Holton, "30-inch water main break floods South Philadelphia streets", contributed by Briana Leone and Alison Kenner, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 12 August 2021, accessed 20 June 2024. https://energyrights.info/content/30-inch-water-main-break-floods-south-philadelphia-streets