Two weeks ago, Joe Ferretti, a Philadelphia Water Department supervisor, pried open a manhole cover next to a scenic Schuylkill River bank, flicked on a flashlight, and peered down.
Ferretti saw evidence that sewage was flowing freely into the river at a stone outfall known as S050204.
In some Philadelphia homes, human waste, shower water, dirty dish grease, and other stuff that belongs in the sanitary sewer system is going down the wrong pipe, sending it to waterways that feed the Delaware River — the city’s primary source of drinking water. The city does filter and treat the water it draws from the river, so drinking water would not be contaminated. However, sewage in the river could pose a threat to people who swim in it.