By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia city officials admitted, at a city council hearing, that they did not do a great job of helping residents harmed by a June water main break in West Philadelphia, but they still oppose a bill that would dictate how similar emergencies are to be handled.

The bill sets out a number of steps that water department officials say they already take after a water main break but adds certain requirements.

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Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell introduced the bill after constituents complained about the water department’s response to the break at 52nd and Wyalusing.

Many testified at the hearing, including Reverend Albert Huntley. “I’m frustrated with it, I’m aggravated and mad with it because I can’t get a word in, I cannot talk. When I try to talk, I get cut off. I’m treated like a child, I don’t like that.”

Deputy Water Commissioner Debra McCarty took her lumps.

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“Next time we’ll be smarter in how we respond. Working with residents and making sure their homes were inhabitable we can improve upon.”

McCarty says, though, certain provisions of the bill, such as removing the requirement that residents use homeowners insurance for some repairs, violate state law.

The committee scheduled another hearing for next month.

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