For Immediate Release: January 25, 2023
Philadelphia Water Department Requests Rate Change
Rate change needed to address rising costs; City remains committed to increasing participation in assistance programs
PHILADELPHIA—On January 24, 2023, the Philadelphia Water Department filed advance notice with the Philadelphia Water, Sewer and Storm Water Rate Board (Rate Board) of its request to increase water, sewer and stormwater rates and charges over two successive years. The Department also filed its proposed Annual TAP-R Reconciliation. This annual reconciliation provides an adjustment to recover costs associated with the Tiered Assistance Program (TAP).
The rate changes are designed to address rising costs for essential services and ensure the stability of the utility. In the next two years, as part of continuing national trends, rising costs in labor, chemicals, materials, equipment, laboratory services and capital costs are among a number of factors that will together drive increasing revenue needs.
Recognizing the impacts of rising costs in all sectors of the economy, the Water Department and Water Revenue Bureau remain committed to attaining more affordable bills for vulnerable households, achieving greater participation in Philadelphia’s nationally recognized Tiered Assistance Program (TAP), and expanding outreach and engagement.
“We are committed to supporting the Water Department and its customers to ensure that residents receive reliable, high-quality water services regardless of income,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Recognizing the financial impact that a necessary rate change will have on Philadelphia households, we plan to work with City Council and partners to realize proposals that will address the affordability of water services, including autoenrollment in TAP.”
“Without these rate changes, the Philadelphia Water Department will struggle to make needed investments in critical infrastructure, including replacing aging water mains, upgrading water treatment plants, building storage for clean water, and sustaining the pumping systems needed to deliver and treat water,” said Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Randy E. Hayman. “As a public utility, we are guided by a mission of serving our city while keeping water affordable for all, and we remain dedicated to that mission.”
Impact on Residential Bills
Beginning in September 2023, for the average ratepayer who is not enrolled in an assistance program, the new rate would mean an additional monthly cost of approximately $8, for an average monthly bill of about $77.50. In 2024 rates would rise to an average monthly bill of approximately $84. Currently, a typical residential bill is $69.31 per month.
The Department is requesting annual revenue increases to generate approximately $80.41 million in FY 2024 and an additional $62.98 million in FY 2025 with proposed effective dates of September 1, 2023 and September 1, 2024, respectively.
The adjustments resulting from both the general rate proceeding and the TAP-R Reconciliation, as proposed by the Department, are included in the typical monthly bill impacts shown below. If the request is approved, the estimated impact on a typical residential customer’s bill is shown in the table below. Estimates include drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and service charges.
|Date increase effective||Requested monthly increase||Additional monthly charges||Typical monthly bill after increase|
|September 1, 2023||11.77%||$8.16||$77.47|
|September 1, 2024||8.32%||$6.45||$83.92|
Requested Rates Will Allow the Department to Pay Its Bills
The Department’s operating costs are projected to increase by $74.8 million in FY 2024 above the previous fiscal year. Additional revenues are needed to meet significantly increasing costs in both FY 2024 and FY 2025.
As all Philadelphians are aware, inflation is increasing the costs of a wide range of goods and services, and this trend is anticipated to continue during the coming years. The Department is not immune to these trends and needs additional resources to pay increasing costs for operations and for upgrades, repairs, improvements, maintenance activities, and more. These increasing costs are driving the Department’s request for higher rates.
How Philadelphia Determines Water Rates
The Water Department’s request, including proposed new rates and charges, written statements, exhibits and supporting documentation, has been filed with the Rate Board.
Such documentation includes financial, accounting, engineering, and other data on which the new rates and charges are based. All the above information is posted at the Rate Board’s website and is available for public inspection: www.phila.gov/water/rateboard
Prior to implementing new rates, the Rate Board will review the Department’s request and schedule public input hearings and technical hearings to determine whether the proposed new rates are just and reasonable.
This rate process will take place over the coming months. A final decision by the Rate Board is expected in June 2023.
Opportunities for the public to provide comments on the proposed changes in rates and charges or to otherwise participate in the rate process will be announced in the coming weeks. Customers can learn about participating in the rate process at www.phila.gov/water/rateboard.
Those interested in email or SMS alerts about upcoming Water Department events and Rate Board Public Input Hearings can sign up at https://phillyh2o.info/events
Customers interested in learning more about the Water Department and the urgent need to address aging infrastructure are encouraged to visit water.phila.gov.