Newly appointed Commissioner Debra McCarty (center). Mayor Kenney named McCarty to lead the department Jan. 1, 2016.
Newly appointed Commissioner Debra McCarty (center). Mayor Kenney named McCarty to lead the department Jan. 1, 2016.

Newly elected Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney rang in 2016 by naming Debra A. McCarty as the new Commissioner of the Philadelphia Water Department. McCarty, the first woman to hold the title of Commissioner, was serving as Deputy Commissioner and Director of Operations.

“I’m honored by Mayor Kenney’s appointment and look forward to building on work that has established the Philadelphia Water Department as a national model for what a modern water, wastewater and stormwater utility can be,” McCarty said. “We will continue to provide 1.5 million people with top quality drinking water and improve and protect the health of our rivers while investing in innovative solutions to 21st Century challenges.”

McCarty began her career with a private engineering firm and joined the department as a sanitary engineer at the Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant in 1982. She has held a number of leadership positions at PWD and was appointed Deputy Water Commissioner of the Operations Division in April 2004. In that role, McCarty was responsible for overseeing the operation and maintenance of three drinking water treatment plants, three wastewater treatment plants, 3,200 miles of water mains, 3,500 miles of sewers, 75,000 inlets, 25,000 fire hydrants and various pumping stations throughout the city.

McCarty will replace Howard Neukrug, who served as Commissioner from 2011 until his retirement in December after 37 years with the department. In a letter to employees, Neukrug thanked staff for striving to modernize the utility during his tenure. 

“During my time at the Philadelphia Water Department, I have participated in an era of profound change.  Together we achieved new and improved levels of health and environmental protections pursuant to the mandates of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act,” Neukrug said.  “We became Philadelphia’s finest environmental protection agency—cleaning up our city’s most vital and abundant natural resource: water.”

McCarty, a dedicated member of her community and a respected leader in the water industry, has served on the boards of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the Neighborhood Gardens Association.

She currently serves on the board of The Philadelphia Singers as its Secretary and is President-Elect of her local civic association. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she received her Bachelor’s in Environmental Engineering.

About the Philadelphia Water Department:

The Philadelphia Water Department supplies water, wastewater, and stormwater services to the City of Philadelphia.