Water main break. Photo: AL DÍA Archives
Water main break. Photo: AL DÍA Archives

The Philadelphia Water Department is eyeing rate increases. Philly residents can chime in on that

The Water, Sewer & Storm Water Rate Board will hear from everyday residents in four upcoming hearings.


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Should Philly residents expect a 20% increase in their water bill over the next two years? The short answer is maybe. 

The Philadelphia Water Department, or PWD, announced in late January that it had filed an advanced notice to increase water, sewer and stormwater rates and charges by 20%, scheduled for the next two years, but the Water, Sewer & Storm Water Rate Board will hear testimonies from residents this week, as required by the Home Rule Charter. 

PWD’s new proposal to restructure billing rates, according to a January press release, foots the bill for rising inflation costs, and because consumer payments cover the department’s costs, residents may have to take on that burden. 

The rate changes

Effective on the first day of September of this year, residents who pay water bills could observe an 11.77% increase in their monthly statement, adding $8.16, resulting in a total expected bill of $77.47 as soon as this year, per PWD.

By September 2024, consumers could be looking at $83.92, or a $14 overall increase in the next two years, with estimates measured by the PWD. 

The department’s Commissioner Randy E. Hayman said that if rates remained stagnant, “the Philadelphia Water Department will struggle to make needed investments in critical infrastructure, including replacing aging water mains, upgrading water treatment plants, building storage for clean water, and sustaining the pumping systems needed to deliver and treat water.” 

These changes, PWD said, will require more revenue. And with increased rates, the department is slated to raise $80 million in 2024, with an additional $62 million in 2025 should the city accommodate its request to hike consumer bills. 

But PWD doesn’t govern itself and instead relies on a mayor-appointed board that seeks buy-in from city councilmembers with strict timelines that include public testimony before making sweeping changes to consumer rates and charges. 

The Water, Sewer & Storm Water Rate Board, which receives notice from PWD, will hear testimonies from residents in the coming days before making a final decision, and per the city ordinance, must make a decision no later than 120 days from the date of the advance notice. 

Can I testify?

Public hearings are accessible and open to Philly residents, and per the city code, it is encouraged that residents weigh in before the independently-acting board moves forward with rate changes. 

Residents can log onto either one of four virtual public hearings scheduled for Wednesday, March 22nd and Thursday, March 23rd, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on both days. 

To register, residents must send notice via email to [email protected]  with information about which hearing they plan to attend to testify. The deadline for that email is March 21. 

If residents prefer to send a written testimony, they can do so by emailing [email protected].

If a resident prefers not to testify but would still like to attend the proceedings, they can watch via 

Meeting details:

Meeting ID: 256 248 9871

Passcode: 12345

The board is expected to make its final decision in June 2023. 


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