As we finish this historically challenging year, my deepest gratitude goes out to all our customers—including Philadelphia Water Department employees and their families.
By working together, through dedication and with confidence, your water department didn’t just maintain critical services: we moved forward.
Here are a few highlights:
We kept over 200 million gallons of clean tap flowing to you daily, so we could wash our hands and keep hydrated without leaving home to buy cases of bottled water. We treated hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater with plants running nonstop despite new pandemic challenges, like a surge in flushed wipes that clog pumps.
We were awarded a $73M low-cost loan for a drinking water facility upgrade that will serve residents for generations. With COVID-19 budget impacts potentially postponing many projects outlined in our Drinking Water Master Plan, the funds come at an especially timely moment.
We picked up the phone nearly half a million times when you needed us and increased customer service on social media.
We offered more help for those in need, stopped shutoffs, and worked to restore water to approximately 15,000 homes as tens of thousands of families here suddenly found themselves unable to pay bills.
We repaired the infrastructure that keeps this city running, upgrading sewers on approximately 67 city blocks, covering over 5.6 miles of streets.
We kicked off dozens of new projects, representing a $131.6 million investment in vital drinking and wastewater infrastructure and green stormwater tools.
We navigated new safety measures; still, public and private sources constructed nearly 80 green stormwater projects. Our staff of engineers, planners, and more provided essential support for 120+ projects now ready to break ground.
These projects will manage hundreds of millions of gallons of stormwater runoff, reducing sewer overflows and protecting our rivers as part of the Green City, Clean Waters initiative.
Nelson Playground (left) and the 4200 Block of Osage Ave (right) are home to green stormwater infrastructure projects that were completed in 2020. (Photos by Louis Cook for the Philadelphia Water Department)
We froze hiring and spending on some big projects. And we did all of this strategically through these tough times to advance our driving goals: protecting our city's health and safety.
It was not easy.
Our teams providing vital services on the street, in the office, and at our plants never stopped reporting to work this year. Like you, we endured daily frustrations brought on by the pandemic while keeping the safety of our customers and workers as our top priority.
And, like so many Philadelphians, our employees and those across City departments continue to make sacrifices to protect others, including those working from home and raising families at the same time.
We all made it work—and Philadelphia will move forward because we’ve worked together.
Thank you for your patience and support this year.
There is hope ahead. But always remember what we accomplished in 2020.
As we start a new year, I am prouder than ever to be part of an organization—and city—clearly defined by its strength of character.