COVID-19

Our latest updates as Philadelphia responds to COVID-19

Please see the important updates below regarding our ongoing response to the COVID‑19 emergency.

If you have lost water or have questions, please call (215) 685-6300 or email waterinfo@phila.gov.

For Water Department-only updates, check our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

For all other information, get updates from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Office of Emergency Management on the City COVID-19 page.

Water in Philadelphia is safe to drink and not impacted by the virus.

Learn more from the EPA

“The safety of our customers and our employees is, as always, our highest priority. As we face this challenge as a city, the Water Department wants Philadelphians to know that losing access to water is one thing they won’t have to worry about. We will not shut off customers who fall behind on payments until further notice, and we will continue to provide the critical core services that are our mission.”

Commissioner Randy Hayman

Latest Updates

July 1

Water Shutoff Protection Extended

The Philadelphia Water Department will not shut off customers unable to pay water bills through August 31, 2020

Because unpaid bills continue to grow the past-due balance, those who cannot pay should apply for help immediately. 

The Tiered Assistance Program allows qualifying customers to get discounted water rates and have past-due bills removed from the collections process. Examples of customers who should apply include those who lost a job, seniors, and anyone experiencing a “special hardship.”

Customers who lost a job or have medical bills may qualify for a hardship discount. All applications are decided case-by-case. 

Apply for Help →

Plumbing Permits Process

As of June 29, 2020 the Municipal Services Building (MSB) allows in-person business transactions by appointment only. We will no longer accept payment by mail for plumbing permits. 

Until further notice, requests must be submitted following the temporary process outlined in our Plumbing Permits Update.

Stormwater Grant Deadline Set

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Stormwater Grants program delayed this year’s grant application deadline to September 15 at 8 a.m.

PWD will have $5 million in Stormwater Grant funding to award this fall.

Learn How to Apply →

Schedule In-Person Water Bill Payments

Customers can now schedule an in-person appointment to make payments at the Municipal Services Building (MSB). Payments are the only in-person service available at this time, and no walk-ins are accepted.

You must have an appointment confirmation before your arrival to the MSB.

We are processing correspondence and inquiries in a limited capacity, and in the order received.

How to Make Appointments→
June 5

Non-Emergency Construction Resumes

Infrastructure improvement projects recently resumed at approved sites. Your safety is our priority. We’re following all government guidelines and use protective equipment, sanitizing procedures, and social distancing.

Contact waterinfo@phila.gov with questions. Our (215) 685-6300 hotline is open for emergencies.

See Recent Alerts →

Flushing Building Water Systems

Philadelphia and surrounding counties entered the state’s “Yellow Phase” on June 5 and we urge owners and operators of dormant buildings to flush building water systems while closed and before reopening.

Buildings of any size where water has not been used for more than one week may experience water quality problems. Old water sitting in pipes can create public health issues such as Legionnairesdisease even if water is not used for drinking or washing.

Property owners are responsible for ensuring the water in their building is safe.

See guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and others →

Plumbing Permits

We are processing all plumbing permits for new connections, repairs, service discontinuances, backflow protection, and meters.

However, until further notice, requests must be submitted following the temporary process outlined in our Plumbing Process Update.

Stormwater Grant Deadline Extended

The Stormwater Grant deadline has been extended beyond July 1st. No new deadline has been selected at this time, but the Stormwater Incentives team will send updates when more budget information is available.

Pre-application meetings can now be scheduled if the project team would like to meet with Stormwater Incentives for feedback on grant applications.

Learn More →
May 20

Shutoff Protection Extended to July 10

If you are unable to pay your water bill due to economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, you will not face shutoff through July 10, 2020.

This latest extension, first enacted in March 2020, aligns with a May 7, 2020, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Executive Order shielding residents from eviction.   

“The health and safety of customers is our top priority,” says Commissioner Randy Hayman. “Access to clean water is an essential part of public health and we are extending our temporary freeze on water shutoffs, effective through July 10, 2020.”

All account holders are still required to pay their bills and should do so if possible. Water bills fund essential infrastructure investments critical to everyday life in Philadelphia. 

Those who cannot pay their bill should apply for help.

May 14

Updated Water Service, Lateral Repair, and New Connection Permit Process

The following update went in to effect May 1, 2020 in accordance with the Mayor’s revised COVID-19 order authorizing certain construction activity.

For Emergency Water Service, Sewer Lateral Repair, New Connection, and Discontinuance permits:

We will process plumbing permits for new connections if the site construction has an approved building or site construction permit issued by Licenses and Inspection (L&I) on or before 3/20/20.

All work must comply with Sections 1 – 5 of the Mayor’s Order. During the city’s response to COVID-19, we will continue to issue permits to replace existing defective water services and sewer laterals on an emergency basis.

Please carefully review instructions for obtaining these permits as detailed in the Plumbing Permit Process.
May 11

Infrastructure Construction Resumes

The Philadelphia Water Department resumed construction at approved project worksites following Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement that construction activities across the state could resume on May 1, 2020.

Our priority at all worksites is the health and safety of our communities. Our teams are utilizing protective equipment, sanitizing procedures, and social distancing. We are committed to ensuring a safe workplace for all employees and protecting their health.

Please see our Construction Notifications page for information about ongoing work.

To report construction‑related incidents or issues requiring immediate attention, please call 215‑685‑6300.
April 27

Shutoff Freeze for Nonpayment Extended to June 1

In line with other regional utilities, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the Water Revenue Bureau (WRB) have agreed to postpone all water shutoffs for residential and commercial customers who are unable to pay their bills through June 1, 2020.

This is a 16-day extension of the original postponement period, which prevented delinquent accounts from being shut off through May 15.

“As our community follows stay-at-home orders, we understand there are broad consequences for many customers. To ensure that those struggling financially will not lose water needed for drinking, washing hands, bathing and cooking, we are putting a temporary freeze on water shutoffs, effective through June 1, 2020,” says Commissioner Randy Hayman.

“It is still important to pay your bill if you can, as all of our operations are funded by revenue from water bills. While we are not shutting people off, customers will still receive a bill and that balance will continue to accumulate as water services are used.”

Customers who cannot pay their bill should apply for help using the application at www.phila.gov/waterbillhelp

See the full announcement here.

Plumbing Permits

During Philadelphia’s ongoing response to COVID-19, only permits to replace existing defective water services and sewer laterals can be issued, on an emergency basis. This includes water service

Discontinuances and Seal Lateral permits. To acquire these permits, please refer to the process outlined in this fact sheet.

Project Permits

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) will grant a time extension to expiration dates for project permits and approvals impacted by the Pennsylvania Stay at Home order. Time extensions only apply to PWD-issued permits and approvals. Please contact the listed units for specific assistance and information.

Permit/Approval Contact Information
SW Plan Reviewpwd.planreview@phila.gov
Utility Plans   pwdur@phila.gov
Pre-permits     wtr@phila.gov
Water connectionswtr@phila.gov
Sewer connectionswtr@phila.gov
Flow test data   wtr@phila.gov

Private Development Services

In response to COVID19, Private Development Services switched to limited operations. To review changes to the program, visit the PWD Plan Review website.

Stormwater Grants and Incentives Updates

The Stormwater Grant application deadline was moved to July 1st on March 16th, 2020. The pre-application meeting deadline has been extended. If you have a meeting scheduled and would like to reschedule, please email PWDStormwaterCredits@phila.gov

Delayed Assistance Applications and Call Wait Times

Customers should be aware of longer processing times for customer assistance applications due to limited resources for Water Revenue Bureau staff working remotely.

“These steps are necessary to provide a safe workplace for employees, and we ask for patience from our customers during this health crisis,” says Deputy Revenue Commissioner Michelle L. Bethel-Miller.

To ensure a safe workplace for call center staff, in-office employees are staggered. PWD and Revenue staff ask for patience when calling (215) 685-6300, which is currently open for emergencies.

If you are a customer and can’t get through, contact the @PhillyH2O or @PhilaRevenue social media accounts, or email waterinfo@phila.gov. Web and social media staff will respond as soon as possible but are not a substitute for emergency calls.

For billing issues, customers can use WRBHelpdesk@phila.gov.

MARCH 25

Philadelphia Water Department crews are working to restore water to all accounts where possible and may need to make emergency repairs during the COVID-19 response.

It may be necessary for workers to speak with a customer or building occupant to investigate taste and odor concerns, provide instructions for turning water on or off, confirm the status of water pressure in the building, or provide plumbing-flushing instructions after repairs are made. 

In order to maintain safety protocol during the COVID-19 response, PWD workers who are required to contact customers for emergency repair work will follow social distancing practices and may use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, eye protection and a protective suit or mask. 

We understand the concerns of our customers. Protecting their health and ensuring a safe workplace for all PWD employees is our highest priority.

Notice of Defect and Emergency Loans

Plumbers and other private contractors making emergency repairs are exempt from the City’s restrictions on business activity. That means if you have a plumbing issue and need to hire a contractor there are no restrictions.

Applications for interest-free emergency HELP loans are still being processed. Call the hotline or follow directions on the Notice of Defect delivered to your home so you can get your issue addressed as quickly as possible and keep your water flowing. More info and HELP applications are available online. You can also address the HELP office at PWDHelpLoan@phila.gov or (215) 685-4901 to leave a message.

Restoring Water 

Crews began turning water back on for customers, beginning with residential accounts, who lost water for nonpayment March 13. There is no fee. If you still do not have water please call us right away. In some cases an inspector may have visited your property and discovered unsafe plumbing conditions, such as flowing water that would flood homes.

MARCH 20

Fees Waived

As a temporary measure, all penalties and late fees for water bills are suspended until further notice for Philadelphia’s residential and commercial water customers. The City of Philadelphia will continue to review this decision with guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Loss of Water

 We are not shutting off water for nonpayment but may have to stop flow to water mains to make emergency repairs. In the event of a water main break, customers may lose water without warning. When possible, we will give residents as much time to prepare as we can. See reported breaks here: Construction Map

Construction Freeze

 All non-emergency work is suspended. We have instructed crews to make work sites safe until construction can resume. If you think an inactive construction site is hazardous, please call (215) 685-6300 and we will investigate.

March 18

See this blog post from the City of Philadelphia to track impacts to City services.

During a joint address with City of Philadelphia departments and agencies, Commissioner Hayman again stressed today that water is safe and not impacted by this virus and that no one will be shut off unless necessary for repairs.

Watch the address here or see his full statement below:

March 18, 2020 PWD Statement for COVID-19 Health Emergency

“The safety of our customers and our employees is, as always, our highest priority.

All necessary Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) operations will continue uninterrupted to ensure delivery of safe, clean drinking water and treatment of wastewater.

Philadelphia’s drinking water is safe to drink, and customers do not need to purchase bottled water.

PWD and our Bureau of Laboratory Services want to assure customers that the virus will not impact the safety of the city’s water supply. Conventional water treatment methods, including filtration and disinfection used at all of Philadelphia’s drinking water plants, removes or inactivates the virus that causes COVID-19.

We continue to test and monitor our drinking water 24/7 to ensure the highest quality water for the residents of Philadelphia.

As we face this challenge as a city, the Water Department and the Water Revenue Bureau wants Philadelphians to know that losing access to water because they’re falling behind on their bill is one thing they won’t have to worry about.

We will not shut off customers who fall behind on payments through May 15. In addition, this week we began restoring water service to customers previously shut off due to delinquent water accounts.

However, in some cases, such as water main breaks and essential infrastructure repairs, we may have to shut off flow to water mains to make repairs. When possible, we will give residents as much time to prepare as possible.

Our emergency crews and the contractors we work with will make repairs as quickly as possible to minimize the time customers are without water. If you have a plumbing emergency or receive a Notice of Defect from PWD, prepare not to have water for at least several hours and make repairs as soon as possible.

Plumbers and other private contractors are exempt from the City’s restrictions on business activity. That means if you have a plumbing issue and need to hire a contractor there are no restrictions.

Our staff is still processing applications for our interest-free emergency HELP loans, so call us if you need that or follow directions on the Notice of Defect so you can get your issue addressed as quickly as possible and keep your water flowing.

The PWD customer contact center (215) 685-6300 will be open for emergencies 24/7 or you can email us at waterinfo@phila.gov. Because we are using essential staff only, we ask that you only call our hotline if absolutely needed.

We won’t shut you off so most billing issues can wait, or many billing issues and questions can be handled through MyPhillyWaterBill at phila.gov/waterbill

For Water Department-only updates, see our website at phila.gov/water or check our Twitter and Facebook feeds. You’ll find us (at) @PhillyH2O Thank you to all the PWD employees who are helping the city to address this unprecedented emergency. Those who are staying home are doing their part to ensure we do everything we can to not overwhelm our health system.

March 16

As City officials respond to the COVID-19 emergency, the Philadelphia Water Department is taking all necessary measures to ensure delivery of safe, clean drinking water and treatment of your wastewater.

Commissioner Hayman and PWD’s Bureau of Laboratory Services also want to assure customers that the virus will not impact the safety of the city’s water supply. Philadelphia’s drinking water is high-quality and safe to drink and customers do not need to purchase bottled water. International experts inform health officials that the virus has not been detected in drinking water.

Conventional water treatment methods, including filtration and disinfection used at all of Philadelphia’s drinking water plants, removes or inactivates the virus that causes COVID-19.

We continue to test and monitor our drinking water supplies 24/7 to ensure the highest quality water for the citizens of Philadelphia.

See the Environmental Protection Agency information on COVID-19 and drinking water and wastewater.

Water Department leadership is coordinating closely with City, state and federal authorities as needed.

Continued Service Under Essential Personnel Policy

Statement from the Mayor’s Office:

“Non-essential City of Philadelphia government operations are halted, and all City government buildings will be closed to the public, effective tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (Staff members are still expected to report to work on Tuesday, March 17, unless otherwise instructed by their supervisor.)

Beginning Wednesday, March 18, all non-essential City workers will not need to report to work. Individual department heads are currently determining what operations are essential. Employees will be receiving additional information on their status in the next 24 hours. Essential operations will include public safety, health and human services, utilities, sanitation, and payroll.”

While the Water Department and all City agencies are required to be staffed by essential personnel only, all necessary operations will continue uninterrupted.

With the essential personnel policy enacted, we are working to minimize potential impacts, including longer call wait times and delayed response to water emergencies such as water main breaks.

March 13

Water Shutoffs Postponed

Beginning Monday, March 16, PWD and the Water Revenue Bureau (WRB) will work together to restore water service to all delinquent residential and commercial customers through Friday, May 15 and the restoration fee will be waived.

In addition, we will not shut off water service for delinquent residential and commercial accounts through May 15.

Residential customers who have been shut off for meter non-compliance will also have their water service restored until May 15.

Customers that have been shut off for not repairing defects in their private plumbing will still need to make the necessary repairs to have their water restored.

We will provide updates as necessary on our website.

Events Canceled or Postponed

Out of an abundance of caution, Rain Check workshops scheduled to take place on March 18, 19, 21, 23 and 24 are canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience. Register for future workshops on the Rain Check website.

Community meetings to provide updates about Green City, Clean Waters construction projects for stormwater management are also being postponed for the time being.

Watershed cleanups planned with partners for later this spring are also likely to be impacted. Please sign up for PWD email or SMS updates for the latest information about these events.

Stormwater Grants Impacts: Deadline Moved

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PWD Stormwater Incentives team has the following updates:

  • The Stormwater Grants deadline has been moved back to July 1st.
  • In-person pre-application meetings are canceled. If you have a pre-application meeting scheduled, please contact the Incentives Team at PWDStormwaterCredits@phila.gov to discuss a teleconference update, cancelation or modification to your scheduled meeting.
  • As the situation changes each day, the Stormwater Incentives Team will send email updates regarding team availability for project reviews. For email bulletin updates, please subscribe here.
  • Due to the fast-changing updates we have, the deadlines posted on our website may be outdated. Other than deadlines, all other requirements in our Stormwater Grant Application Guide still hold for the next application deadline.
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