For Immediate Release: February 4, 2023

Contact: | (215) 380-9327

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $500M Financing Supporting Water Infrastructure

Replacing water mains in 11 areas helps customers remove lead pipes. More funding to support significant plant upgrades in City’s multibillion-dollar plan.

PHILADELPHIA—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $340 million financing commitment to upgrade the City of Philadelphia’s aging drinking water infrastructure, including replacing customers’ lead service lines. This Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) low-interest loan will jumpstart the work to modernize the drinking water system with an initial investment of $19 million.

While the White House event at Belmont highlighted water main replacement and the customer lead service lines that would be replaced during that work, the bulk of the $340 million WIFIA agreement is slated to fund large capital projects in the Water Revitalization Plan, including investments that improve pumping and water storage.

The announcement was made during a Friday, February 3, visit from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the Philadelphia Water Department’s Belmont Drinking Water Treatment Plant, which provides 45 million gallons of clean water per day on average to approximately a quarter million city residents west of the Schuylkill River.

“This commitment will provide an immense boost to Philadelphia’s ongoing efforts to ramp up water main replacement and help sustain our recently launched 25-year, multibillion-dollar Water Revitalization Plan, investments that will result in direct health and safety benefits for all Philadelphians,” said Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Randy E. Hayman.

“Replacing miles of water mains in these neighborhoods will also strengthen our campaign to replace customers’ lead service lines as we renew and improve the City’s infrastructure. This represents the biggest investment in drinking water infrastructure in a generation, and we would not be able to do this work without this level of federal investment.”

The initial $19 million financing package, representing the first loan in the $340 million agreement with the EPA, will:

  • Help fund over 15 miles of new water mains at 11 project sites across the city
  • Create approximately 100 jobs during construction and operation
  • Replace approximately 160 lead service lines for customers 

A partial list of neighborhoods where these projects will take place includes:

More details about an additional six water main replacement projects will be released when construction bids are complete.

This work is part of the Philadelphia Water Department’s efforts to replace dozens of miles of water mains in 2023. Under Water Department policy, lead service lines found during water main replacement are replaced with the permission of the property owner.

Since 2017, over 2,600 customers have had lead service lines replaced by the Water Department during water main replacement. 

The White House also announced that the Philadelphia Water Department is slated to receive $160 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s first of five years of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to be distributed through the state’s PENNVEST infrastructure financing program. 

Of that $160 million, approximately $125 million will help upgrade facilities at the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant, which supplies water to about 60 percent of the city’s 1.6 million residents. The remaining $35 million will finance projects to replace over 19 miles of water mains, and the lead service lines and connections along those mains. 

Read the US EPA press release here.