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City Council

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What's with the Requested Rate Change? 9 Ways to Learn More, Get Involved

Customers, City Council, Mayor Kenney, and the Water Rate Board were recently informed that we need to raise rates. Increased rates will ensure we have the resources we need to better maintain one of the oldest water systems in the country.

As a part of the process—and to promote transparency—we are holding seven Public Input Hearings across the city. These hearings are held with the Water Rate Board, an independent body created by voters to oversee any rate changes. Any testimony made by residents will become part of the public record.

You can find a list of meeting locations, dates and times on the Rate Board site.

We encourage our customers to get involved in the process by attending a hearing and viewing our detailed breakdown of how rates could change and what they fund, available here.

Did you know? When we request a rate change, we must show that the increase is justified and needed. If the Rate Board thinks we didn’t show we truly need more revenue, they can lower the increase to an amount below what we requested or refuse to raise rates at all.

Where Your Bill Goes: Behind the Scenes
In addition to the Public Input Hearings, we will host two upcoming Water Open House events at two big facilities—the Baxter Water Treatment Plant on the Delaware River and the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant.

While not part of the official rate-setting process, these events are designed to show you what your water bill helps pay for. Because we are a not-for-profit, cost of service public utility, all the funds that make 24/7 access to clean water possible come from the monthly water bills sent to Philadelphia residents.

Every PWD employee lives in the city, too, and that means our paying customers include the nearly 2,000 people working to ensure our pipes and plants are doing their job, protecting our rivers and bringing top-quality water to homes and businesses around the clock.

The Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant event will take place on Saturday, April 14 and the Baxter event will take place on Saturday, April 21. In addition to the open houses, expert-guided tours will be offered at each plant. Space for the tours is limited, so RSVP now.

Not sure which one you want to see? The April 14 event will show you how we treat wastewater from homes and streets to protect our rivers; the April 21 event at Baxter will show you how we turn raw river water into top-quality tap that meets or beats state and federal quality standards. All Philly residents with a valid ID are welcome at both. 

Those who attend will get a behind the scenes look at everything needed to deliver safe water and protect our rivers.

Participants can also:

  • Hear from Commissioner Debra McCarty, the first woman to lead PWD in its 200-year history.
  • Talk to Water Revenue experts and learn how we help customers save.
  • Meet some of the nation’s most-trusted water quality scientists, plant operators and more.
  • Learn how our city is leading the way with Green City, Clean Waters, America’s first large-scale green stormwater infrastructure program.

RSVP now!

Councilman Mark Squilla and the Philadelphia Water Department Host Water Town Hall

Councilman Mark Squilla and the Philadelphia Water Department will hold a Water Town Hall meeting at Our Lady of Port Richmond School, located at 3233 E. Thompson St., on Tuesday, April 25th from 6 to 8 p.m.

Click the image to invite your friends and neighbors on Facebook.


This event is the first in a series of Water Town Halls for Philadelphia City Council Districts.

Written Comments on Rate Change Due April 18!

Click the image for a full breakdown of the proposed rate change. Credit: Philadelphia Water 

The final Public Input Hearing for our proposed 2016-2017 rate increase was held at City Hall on April 7, 2016. If you were unable to attend one of the five public hearings, you can still submit comments by contacting the Philadelphia Water, Sewer, and Stormwater Rate Board, an independent board created by voters to set water rates.

Written comments must be submitted by April 18.

New Bill Encourages Green Roofs, Density

Water industry representives from across North America check out the Paseo Verde green roof in North Phila. Credit: Brian Rademaekers/Philadelphia Water.
Water industry representatives from across North America check out the Paseo Verde green roof in North Phila. Credit: Brian Rademaekers/Philadelphia Water.

Green City, Clean Waters is the biggest plan in the U.S. designed to manage stormwater with green infrastructure, and that means Philadelphia Water will take all the help it can get from developers who want to add value to their properties while also lessening the negative environmental impacts with green stormwater tools.

On October 8th, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Chair of the Council Committee on the Environment, introduced a bill that would give the development community a new incentive to include one of the most talked about green infrastructure tools out there – green roofs.

Brown’s bill would allow for density zoning bonuses for developers who incorporate approved green roofs into building designs.

"As a City, we have been steadily increasing incentives to build green roofs, and it is working. Philadelphia is now the number three City in North America when it comes to green roof square footage, trailing only Washington, D.C. and Toronto, Canada; that is huge," Councilwoman Reynolds Brown said in statement released by her office.

Green roofs would have to meet Philadelphia Water's design standards to qualify for the density bonus, and Commissioner Howard Neukrug offered support for the new bill.

"We thank Councilwoman Reynolds Brown for helping to provide this added incentive that will create more green roofs in Philadelphia," said Neukrug. "Green roofs help to manage stormwater, keeping it from overwhelming our sewer system and polluting our rivers. This legislation will also help make green roofs more affordable and help create more jobs for our local green business community."

Under the current code, a 10,000 square foot lot in a Residential Multi Family Zoning District (RM-1) would be zoned for twenty dwelling units. If the developer added an approved green roof to the design, the same lot would be zoned for 27 units.

In a Neighborhood Commercial Mixed Zoning District (CMX-2 and CMX-2.5) a 10,000 square foot building is currently zoned for 19 dwelling units and under the new law, would be zoned for 27 units, provided they install an approved green roof.

A green roof is defined by the ordinance as “a treatment to a rooftop that supports living vegetation and includes a synthetic, high quality waterproof membrane, drainage layer, root barrier, soil layer, and vegetation layer.”

Philadelphia would join a small but growing number of cities offering density bonuses for green roofs including San Diego, Portland, Ore., Chicago, and Austin. The bill will be referred to the Committee on the Rules, Chaired by Councilman Bill Greenlee, who expects a fall 2015 hearing.

To see a full copy of the bill, please click here.

City Council Imagined a Day Without Water - And They Didn't Like It

This graphic, produced by Value of Water, shows we aren't alone in dealing with main breaks. Over the last 5 years, Philadelphia Water averaged 823 water main breaks per year, a fairly typcial number for similar cities. Credit: Philadelphia Water/Value of Water.
This graphic, produced by Value of Water, shows we aren't alone in dealing with main breaks. Over the last 5 years, Philadelphia Water averaged 823 water main breaks per year, a fairly typical number for similar cities. Credit: Philadelphia Water/Value of Water.

As a part of the national "Imagine a Day Without Water" campaign, City Council backed a resolution recognizing the importance of our water infrastructure and the need for both local and federal investment to maintain the pipes and systems that deliver, remove and treat our water.

We're thrilled that Philly's elected officials (officially) get just how important it is to keep our water flowing! In the Tuesday, Oct. 1 session, City Council overwhelmingly approved the resolution. You can view the document here, and we've included the full text below.

MORE: Read Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug's Inquirer Op-Ed Here

Since there are roughly 2,000 employees at Philadelphia Water working 24/7/365 to make sure you always have clean, safe drinking water and that our rivers are protected and healthy, we know the importance of having water. And even just one day without water would more than inconvenient—it could be catastrophic.

It's more than brushing your teeth, having a cup of coffee and, of course, staying hydrated. So much—from the food we grow to our power plants and life-saving fire hydrants—depends on the nation's water infrastructure. And yet, we often take it for granted until something breaks because so much of this crucial system is hidden beneath our feet. In Philadelphia alone, there are enough pipes and sewers to stretch from here to California and back again, and much of that system is aging.
We've budgeted $767 million in 2016 to keep Philadelphia's water infrastructure running, but the system is still aging, and costs will rise.

That's why we're part of the "Imagine a Day Without Water" campaign, organized by the national Value of Water Coalition, to raise awareness about the need for infrastructure investment.
Learn more about this important issue at the Value of Water website, check out City Council's resolution below, and be sure to keep read an important message from Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug and former Pa. Governor Ed Rendell (now co-chair at Building America's Future) on the Philadelphia Inquirer's opinion page.

City Council’s Imagine a Day Without Water Resolution -  Full Text:

Recognizing the Philadelphia Water Department and the “Imagine a Day Without Water” campaign being held October 6-8 2015 which is geared toward recognizing the importance of clean water in our lives and the investment in infrastructure that is necessary to protect this valuable resource.

Whereas, the infrastructure that brings water to and from homes and businesses is essential to the quality of life and economic vitality of the city of Philadelphia; and

Whereas, Philadelphia residents on average utilize 87 gallons of water per person, per day; and

Whereas, Philadelphia has almost 3,200 miles of water mains with an average age of 70 years; and treats over 250 million gallons of drinking water per day and over 471 million gallons of wastewater and stormwater per day, providing reliable and clean water to over 2 million people; and

Whereas, while utilities nationwide are grappling with aging infrastructure, Philadelphia Water is making prudent and sustainable investments guided by a 10-year capital plan; and

Whereas, Philadelphia Water has been a model for innovation, delivering notable projects such as the Contaminant Warning System and the Biogas Cogeneration facility; and

Whereas, Philadelphia will invest $2 billion over 25 years in its Green Cities, Clean Water program to ensure clean water and an ever-greener Philadelphia for present and future generations; and

Whereas, green stormwater infrastructure will not only ease the burden on our sewers but will provide a maximum return in benefits to the public, the economy and the environment; and

Whereas, one-fifth of the U.S. economy would grind to a halt without a reliable and clean source of water; and

Whereas, for every one job created in the water sector, another 3.68 jobs are added in the national economy. And for every $1 spent on infrastructure improvements, the U.S .generates $6 in returns; now; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, that the City of Philadelphia recognizes that water is essential to the quality of life and economic competitiveness and acknowledges the importance of educating the public about the value of water through the “Imagine A Day Without Water” campaign.

FURTHER RESOLVED , that the City of Philadelphia is dedicated to investing in the City’s water and wastewater infrastructure and calls on our federal partners to bring much-needed funding to Philadelphia to protect and restore our critical water infrastructure.

Good Economy Challenge to Candidates Features Green City, Clean Waters

The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) has stepped into the fray of this year’s city elections to offer up the “Good Economy Challenge” to all of the candidates for mayor and City Council. Highlighting the importance of a sustainable economy, they focus on five policy priorities: small business, procure local, solar homes, social enterprise and... Green City, Clean Waters! 

In a recent newsletter SBN wrote “Green City, Clean Waters is bringing many economic, environmental, and social benefits to the city, and is positioning Philadelphia as a national leader in urban stormwater management. Our next Mayor/Council Members should drive Green City, Clean Waters forward in a unified way, so that the program can continue to positively influence Philadelphia’s competitiveness, local and regional economy, environment, and quality of life.” (We're blushing over here!) And in their policy paper, SBN outlines three specific recommendations asking candidates to pledge their commitment to Green City, Clean Waters, to improve coordination across city departments to better support the program and to continue making Philadelphia a green infrastructure industry and innovation hub for the nation. You can check all of their recommendations here

Perhaps most importantly, SBN is hosting the Good Economy Candidates Forum, giving you a chance to hear directly from mayoral candidates on Saturday, April 25, 6:30-9pm. The forum takes place at Temple’s Fox School of Business, Alter Hall Auditorium, 1801 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, PA. You can register for the forum using this link

And they didn’t just stop at issuing the challenge and organizing a forum! To keep up the social pressure, SBN has provided all kinds of easy-to-use tools for people to spread the message of this challenge. They’ve provided suggested Twitter and Facebook language (we’re partial to this one) so YOU can be part of the effort to put these policies in front of the mayoral and council candidates—scroll to the bottom of this page here for more examples. 

We appreciate that SBN has been such a strong advocate for Green City, Clean Waters and included it in this challenge. If you agree that Green City, Clean Waters, and sustainable, local business is an important topic for our new leaders, then make sure you attend the Forum, spread the word and get involved!

Why customer satisfaction is important and what we’re doing to improve it

A collaborative effort of various associations representing the U.S. water and wastewater sector called WaterEUM cuts to the core of why high customer satisfaction is the most important goal for utilities like PWD:

Customer satisfaction is important to water utilities to minimize customer complaints and associated costs, maintain customer goodwill, and increase customer support for utility improvement initiatives.

But most importantly, improving customer satisfaction is just the right thing to do. PWD’s employees are also customers, ratepayers and residents of Philadelphia so we know how important it is to get this right. In our budget testimony to City Council this week we shared some results from changes we put in place in the past year to improve customer service.

By adding cloud technology to the PWD call center in 2013 we significantly increased the number of calls taken each business day. We can now track all calls and use a customer call back system to ensure that every customer gets the chance to speak directly with a representative. The centers are showing significantly fewer abandoned calls and shorter customer hold times: an average wait time of 39 seconds—30% shorter than the average among call centers across all industries (56 seconds). And we continue to work to make that wait time even shorter.

PWD Year-In-Review: Two Rivers, One Water, 12 Exciting Months

Every spring, each department of the city government testifies in front of City Council during the hearings about the budget for the next fiscal year. (Quick point: Philadelphia’s fiscal year ends on June 30. Fiscal Years correspond to their end dates. So right now we’re in the middle of hearings for fiscal year 2015 which begins on July 1, 2014.)

For the departments, it’s a chance to reflect back on the previous year and look ahead at the short- and long-term plans of the department. Tomorrow, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) will have its turn in the spotlight as Commissioner Howard Neukrug delivers his testimony to City Council. Since much of what is said during this testimony doesn’t get reported out to the general public, we thought we’d share some of these reflections of the past yearand plans for the coming year directly with you. Over the next few days we will post quick reads about what we think are some exciting developments and particularly interesting challenges. As always, to respond to anything you’ve read here or ask questions through our Twitter accountor by emailing

Wednesday we’ll kick things off with a quick review of our mission and share with you the major short- and long-term goals we identified in a recently completed Strategic Plan.

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