Water bills going up again

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

City residents could see a hefty increase to their water bills over the next few years.

The Philadelphia Water Department is asking to raise residents’ bills more than 20 percent over the next two years to recover costs for essential services.

The Water Department filed advance notice with the Philadelphia Water, Sewer and Storm Water 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. 

The city is citing national trends that will account for rising costs in labor, chemicals, materials, equipment, laboratory services and capital costs, which will factor in driving increasing revenue needs. 

“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.”   

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.

If passed, new rates would go into effect in September. The average ratepayer who pays $69.31, would see a monthly increase of approximately $8, for an average monthly bill of about $77.50. In September, 2024, the average water bill would jump to about $84.

Estimates are based on a typical residential customer with a 5/8-inch water meter who uses about 450 cubic feet of water (3,336 gallons) per month. 

The Department is requesting the annual revenue increases to generate about $80.41 million in FY 2024 and an additional $62.98 million in FY 2025.

“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.” 

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.