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!

About the rate increase:
We are responsible for the maintenance and replacement of more than 6,000 miles of water mains and sewers. Philadelphia experienced 715 water main breaks between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017—a number that represents water service disruptions and potential flooding to approximately 700 neighborhood blocks.

And this past winter season was especially challenging, with 625 water main breaks in just over three months.

These breaks are not just inconvenient. In some cases, flooding and property damage has briefly displaced residents from their homes, and multiple large breaks can cost the City millions of dollars per year in customer claims related to damaged homes and cars.

This increase in main breaks is due, in part, to aging infrastructure since the average age of a water main in Philadelphia is about 70 years.

The Water Department is a cost of service utility and does not profit from rate increases. The proposed 10.6 percent increase would raise the typical residential bill $7 per month by September 2020. We break down the changes a typical residential customer would see.

Rate change impact on a typical bill through 2020.

 

*Typical bill represents households which have a 5/8-inch water meter and use 500 cubic feet of water (3,740 gallons) per month

We are requesting the rate increase because we need additional revenue to address increasing operating costs, but also so that we can continue to achieve a favorable credit rating. Keeping a favorable rating will help mitigate future borrowing costs associated with upgrading water and wastewater treatment plants and replacing water mains and sewers.

For more information on participating in the rate process, visit the Rate Board site.