The Philadelphia Water Department filed a rate increase request on February 16, 2021. Without a rate increase, the utility’s financial situation will deteriorate and the ability to make needed repairs will be impacted, increasing risks for water main breaks and other infrastructure failures.
If approved, water bills for residential customers would increase by 11.6% in September 2021 and 5.3% the following September. For a typical resident using 3,740 gallons a month, the bill would be $78.45 after the full increase.
Those who cannot afford a water bill have many options, including hardship-based discounts and newly extended payment agreements. Get details and applications on a site set up in response to COVID-19.
As part of a rate-setting process that puts a priority on transparency, there will be four public hearings held virtually:
- Tuesday, March 16 at 1 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 16 at 6 p.m.
- Thursday, March 18 at 1 p.m.
- Thursday, March 18 at 6 p.m.
Hearings will be accessible online and by phone and conducted in English. Anyone can attend.
To testify at one of the above hearings or submit public comment, customers can:
- Email name and contact information to WaterRateBoard@phila.gov
- Call (215) 685-6135 and leave a message with the above information
Customers should indicate which hearing they will attend. Customers who have not pre-registered may need to wait until the end of the hearing to speak.
To submit a public comment outside of the public hearings:
Email WaterRateBoard@phila.gov or send written comments by mail to:
Philadelphia Water, Sewer & Storm Water Rate Board
C/O: Steven Liang
1515 Arch Street, 17th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Any testimony made by residents at hearings will become part of the public record.
Information on the rate case, including instructions for joining the hearings, can be found on the Rate Board site. Links for the Zoom broadcasts scheduled for March 16 and 18 are under the Meetings & Hearings tab:
Watch, listen, or participate:
Tips for Participating in Public Hearings
Please, participate! This is your opportunity to make the Rate Board and the Water Department aware of any relevant concerns that you have regarding the rates proposed in this proceeding.
Sign on early. Although Zoom is not particularly complicated, it sometimes takes a while to sign on or call in. Try to sign on or call in 5 to 15 minutes early. You will then have the opportunity to hear the introductions and the Hearing Officer’s instructions.
Sign up if you want to testify. Witnesses are usually called to testify in the order they have signed up. You may sign up by emailing WaterRateBoard@phila.gov or by leaving a message at (215) 685-6135. Please indicate which hearing you plan to attend. You may still speak if you have not preregistered, but you may need to wait until the end of the hearing.
Prepare what you want to say in advance. It is helpful to prepare your statement ahead of time. If you are nervous about speaking in public, you may want to write out your statement and then read it at the hearing.
Add your own experience. As a customer, you have unique information. You may want to give specific examples to support the issues you address. If other customers have already testified about the same issue, you may still mention it, to show it is affecting more than one person. If there are many speakers, the Hearing Officer may set a time limit for each witness.
Speak slowly and clearly. Your testimony is important. Make sure you are understood. There will be a stenographic record of each public hearing.
Written statements. If you have a written statement or other papers that you want to give to the Hearing Officer as evidence, please email them to WaterRateBoard@phila.gov. You may also testify entirely in writing if you prefer.
Questions. Sometimes one of the participants in the rate proceeding may want to ask you a question about your testimony. Listen carefully to the question and answer it the best you can. It is okay if you do not know the answer.
Assistance from the Public Advocate. The Rate Board has selected Community Legal Services to serve as Public Advocate in this proceeding, to help ensure that the Rate Board fully understands the concerns and interests of smaller customers, both residents, and businesses.
If you need information about the proceeding or about how to testify or have any other questions, please feel free to email the Public Advocate at email@example.com. An attorney from the Public Advocate will attend all public hearings.