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January 26, 2016

PWD responds to 'inaccurate' Guardian report about water testing methods

Department says comparing Philly to Flint is 'misleading'

The Philadelphia Water Department has responded to what they say is an "inaccurate" report from the Guardian about their testing methods.

The department detailed alleged falsehoods in the report, which claims Philly, among other U.S. cities, is putting residents at risk by gaming their tests, asking those sampling to "flush" the water by running it for a couple minutes before collecting.

"The article incorrectly stated that Philadelphia Water asks customers to flush systems before taking a sample," the response, issued Sunday, read: "We do not ask customers to flush the tap before taking a sample."

According to the department, the article failed to point out that the method is only used sporadically for residents in high-risk homes.

Guidelines from the department about the risks of lead poisoning tell residents in high-risk homes to flush their faucets in an effort to clean their pipes of the chemical, not as a method to rid potential samples of it.

The department also says it is in line with all of the state's best practices and is cooperating with state and federal agencies on proposed revisions.

The Guardian report, published Friday, claimed the department was among many across the country that used the process of "flushing" to reduce levels of lead and copper in samples, therefore understating how much of the chemicals are present in the water supply.

The report came amid a water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where local residents' complaints went largely ignored by government officials about poisonous water in their drinking supply.

Department officials said in response that while they sympathized with Flint residents, attempting to draw comparisons between their situation and Philly was "highly misleading."

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