Customer Service

Philadelphia Water Department Customers Can Win $100, Improve Services with New Survey

Any customer over 18 is eligible to take the Philadelphia Water survey available by texting @WATER to 39242. Participants will automatically enter a raffle to win one of many $100 gift cards.

As part of ongoing efforts to improve our work and better understand the needs of customers, the Philadelphia Water Department is conducting a comprehensive survey intended collect feedback on a wide range of services.

The 2017 Customer Feedback Survey, made possible through a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, measures public opinion and allows the department to gauge what people in Philadelphia think about PWD and the services we provide.

Any customer over 18 is eligible to take the surveyParticipants will automatically enter a raffle to win one of many $100 gift cards. Survey instructions have been included in a flyer sent along with May 2017 water bills.

The survey can be accessed online here or by texting @WATER to 39242.

4th District Water Town Hall with PWD and Councilman Jones

PWD Public Affairs General Manager Joanne Dahme (left) and Commissioner Debra McCarty speak with residents at a Water Town Hall held in April. Each City Council district will host a meeting with residents this year. Credit: Brian Rademaekers for the City of Philadelphia
PWD Public Affairs General Manager Joanne Dahme (left) and Commissioner Debra McCarty speak with residents at a Water Town Hall held in April. Each City Council district will host a meeting with residents this year.

A Water Town Hall will be held for residents of City Council’s Fourth District on Thursday, May 11th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Sharon Baptist Church, located at 3955 Conshohocken Ave.

This public forum is the second in a series of Water Town Halls for Philadelphia City Council Districts and will feature Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Debra McCarty. 

Spread the word: Invite friends on Facebook.

Joanne Dahme Wins City’s Dilworth Award for Customer Service

Joanne Dahme, General Manager of Public Affairs at the Philadelphia Water Department, with Commissioner Debra McCarty and Mayor Jim Kenney after receiving the Richardson Dilworth Award  for Excellence in Customer Service.
Joanne Dahme, General Manager of Public Affairs at the Philadelphia Water Department (at center), with Commissioner Debra McCarty and Mayor Jim Kenney after receiving the Richardson Dilworth Award  for Excellence in Customer Service.

Here at the Philadelphia Water Department, Joanne Dahme is more than General Manager of the Public Affairs Division.

She is a cheerleader, a champion and a motivational force that keeps the rest of the department on its toes, always striving to serve the people of Philadelphia not just with good service, but with energy and a positive attitude.

Joanne, who originally began her career as a Water Pollution Control Plant engineer 34 years ago, runs circles around all of us at PWD. And then, after work, she goes home, does some actual running, and dedicates her time to her family, her neighborhood, and her other passion—writing novels for young adults.

That kind of energy makes it hard not to get inspired when you work with Joanne.

On September 13, the City of Philadelphia recognized her unwavering dedication to her work and the citizens she serves in a big way: Joanne was given the Richardson Dilworth Award for Excellence in Customer Service, one of the most prestigious awards a City employee can receive.

Have a Few Minutes to Help Us Serve You Better?


Click the image to take the survey. You could win one of many $100 gift cards. 

We work extremely hard to protect our rivers and provide our 1.5 million customers with top-quality drinking water, and we want to make sure that water also comes with top-quality customer service.

That’s why we want to hear from you. We’ve teamed up with Temple University’s Institute for Survey Research to offer a survey aimed at learning more about what we can do to improve the services we provide.

Residents who take the survey will have a chance to win a $100 gift card, and there are three easy ways to give your input:

1. Go to www.phlwatersurvey.com and complete online

2. Call 215.204.5858 and complete over the phone

3. Text @WATER to 73940

Want to know more? Here’s a quick FAQ:

Saving Ducklings and Protecting Watersheds: All In a Day's Work for Our Inlet Cleaning Crews!

Infrastructure Week 2016: Inlet Cleaning

While they may be easy to overlook, you can find at least one of our 75,000-plus storm drains on nearly every street in Philadelphia. Designed to take stormwater away from our streets, storm drains (or inlets) form a direct connection between our neighborhoods and the watersheds in which we live.

What does that connection mean? It means that, when people litter, leave pet waste behind, or let old cars leak oil in the street, that stuff washes down the storm drain and enters our water supply.

On the other hand, inlets blocked with trash, snow, leaves, construction debris and sediment can make local flooding worse when we have heavy rain and water can’t drain properly.

So, who takes care of our storm drains? And what can residents do to keep pollution out of our waterways and ensure the storm drains work properly?

Here to answer some of those questions during Infrastructure Week is William Shields, the head of our Inlet Cleaning Unit.

Investing in Our Brand: Investing in Our Customers

The second installation in a series of stories examining the foundations of our new brand

Our new look in action: Philadelphia Water's 2015 Drinking Water Quality Report, our revamped bill, and the new Stormwater Regulations website. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Our new look in action: Philadelphia Water's 2015 Drinking Water Quality Report, our revamped bill, and the new Stormwater Regulations website. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Our new logo and brand, which hasn’t been updated since 1987, is a very visible piece of our efforts to communicate with the 2.2 million customers and other stakeholders we serve and work with every day.

We don’t just have a new logo. We have a new way of doing things that is redefining what a water utility can be and do.

We are a different department than we were 30 years ago. You can see the change through our innovative, trendsetting programs like Green City, Clean Waters or in our new Stormwater Plan Review and Regulations website, which makes complex information for developers and commercial customers more accessible and easier to understand than ever.

Because what we do and how we do it has changed so dramatically, we needed to change the very thing that says who we are: our brand.

The logo people see every day is part of the face we put on the immense amount of work Philadelphia Water does to make sure our customers know what we offer and how we are using their fees.

And, while the funds invested in our new look represent an extremely small slice of our budget, it’s a powerful and cost effective way to send a clear message about all the important new work we’re doing and to call attention to significant changes in the way we operate.

Our new brand does a number of important things, giving us a big bang for our buck:

• Being Philadelphia Water instead of “PWD” clears up widespread confusion about who we are. Experience and research revealed many customers mistakenly associated us with “PGW,” our sister agency, the Philadelphia Gas Works.

• Updating our look to express our massive modernization efforts sends a signal to businesses and people thinking about moving to or working with Philadelphia.

• Investing in a new brand is an easy and cost effective way to start a conversation about what Philadelphia Water is today.

• "Established 1801." The new look strives to foster civic pride in Philadelphia’s history as a leader in water technology, reinforcing our position as industry leaders—we have been at the forefront of protecting and delivering water for over two centuries. It also reminds people that much of our infrastructure is a gift we inherited from previous generations, and that now is our time to preserve and expand on that investment.

We take a big investment like this seriously, and we want to get this once-in-a-generation opportunity right. It’s why we devoted significant resources and time to becoming Philadelphia Water—a name and look that truly reflects the new department we’ve become as well as the department we’re working to be.

Beyond customer service and communications improvements, we're also reducing water main breaks, using smart meters, making big strides in river water quality improvements, and investing in renewable energy at our treatment plants — so stay tuned for more news.

We’ll miss “PWD,” but our new brand is your invitation to discover who we are in 2015. Philadelphia Water is a whole new department, one that’s serving you better and offering more to customers and the city than ever before.

Changes Coming to Your Water Bill: What to Expect

If you got a water bill this week, chances are it looked different from what you're used to seeing. As a part of our overall effort to improve customer service and make working Philadelphia Water as smooth and easy as possible, we've made some changes. For those who just want to know what they owe, that's as clear as can be. But if you're the kind of person who likes to get those nitty-gritty details, we've got stuff for you, too. Here's a quick look at what's different:

The New Bill.
Click the image to download or take a closer look. 

What makes the new bill better?

Easy-to-read format

Updated usage graph

Clear statement of charges and account status

Updated message section for important communications

Please—just the bottom line. How much?

If you are a customer who pays the full balance on the account every month, you only need to look at the total in the PLEASE PAY NOW box, which is outlined in color.

What does the usage graph tell me?

The usage graph shows trends in your water consumption over a 13-month period. The vertical axis is water consumption. The horizontal axis displays the months. A light-purple bar indicates an estimated reading; actual readings are in dark purple. Use the graph to monitor your water consumption habits. A drastic change in the graph may alert you to a leak, or it may reflect a change in your household routines: More showers? More laundry? House guests? Watering of outdoor plants?

Why is the detachable payment voucher important?

The coded information ensures the accurate processing of your payment. Without the payment voucher, the coded information must be entered manually. Manual entry requires extra time, and data entry errors are always a possibility. With the payment voucher, the information is read and recorded electronically.

What if Philadelphia Water recently installed new metering equipment at my location?

If your meter and/or ERT were replaced since the last billing cycle, the meter information section of the bill will display the readings and total usage for both the old and new meters as well as the old and new ERTs.

What if I have a payment agreement?

A "Payment Agreement History" section showing the six most recent payments is now reflected on page two of the bill.

The figure in the PLEASE PAY NOW box includes your current charges plus your monthly payment agreement amount. This is the amount you should pay by the due date to avoid penalty charges.  

How does the new bill indicate a discount or credit?

If you or your organization receives a grant or discount such as Senior Citizen, Charity, PHA, Board of Education and University/Hospital discounts, it is listed with your monthly charges, above the total.

And remember: You can always pay your Philadelphia Water bill online! Just click here for online bill pay

Why customer satisfaction is important and what we’re doing to improve it

A collaborative effort of various associations representing the U.S. water and wastewater sector called WaterEUM cuts to the core of why high customer satisfaction is the most important goal for utilities like PWD:

Customer satisfaction is important to water utilities to minimize customer complaints and associated costs, maintain customer goodwill, and increase customer support for utility improvement initiatives.

But most importantly, improving customer satisfaction is just the right thing to do. PWD’s employees are also customers, ratepayers and residents of Philadelphia so we know how important it is to get this right. In our budget testimony to City Council this week we shared some results from changes we put in place in the past year to improve customer service.

By adding cloud technology to the PWD call center in 2013 we significantly increased the number of calls taken each business day. We can now track all calls and use a customer call back system to ensure that every customer gets the chance to speak directly with a representative. The centers are showing significantly fewer abandoned calls and shorter customer hold times: an average wait time of 39 seconds—30% shorter than the average among call centers across all industries (56 seconds). And we continue to work to make that wait time even shorter.

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