wastewater

What's with the Requested Rate Change? 9 Ways to Learn More, Get Involved

Customers, City Council, Mayor Kenney, and the Water Rate Board were recently informed that we need to raise rates. Increased rates will ensure we have the resources we need to better maintain one of the oldest water systems in the country.

As a part of the process—and to promote transparency—we are holding seven Public Input Hearings across the city. These hearings are held with the Water Rate Board, an independent body created by voters to oversee any rate changes. Any testimony made by residents will become part of the public record.

You can find a list of meeting locations, dates and times on the Rate Board site.

We encourage our customers to get involved in the process by attending a hearing and viewing our detailed breakdown of how rates could change and what they fund, available here.

Did you know? When we request a rate change, we must show that the increase is justified and needed. If the Rate Board thinks we didn’t show we truly need more revenue, they can lower the increase to an amount below what we requested or refuse to raise rates at all.

Where Your Bill Goes: Behind the Scenes
In addition to the Public Input Hearings, we will host two upcoming Water Open House events at two big facilities—the Baxter Water Treatment Plant on the Delaware River and the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant.

While not part of the official rate-setting process, these events are designed to show you what your water bill helps pay for. Because we are a not-for-profit, cost of service public utility, all the funds that make 24/7 access to clean water possible come from the monthly water bills sent to Philadelphia residents.

Every PWD employee lives in the city, too, and that means our paying customers include the nearly 2,000 people working to ensure our pipes and plants are doing their job, protecting our rivers and bringing top-quality water to homes and businesses around the clock.

The Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant event will take place on Saturday, April 14 and the Baxter event will take place on Saturday, April 21. In addition to the open houses, expert-guided tours will be offered at each plant. Space for the tours is limited, so RSVP now.

Not sure which one you want to see? The April 14 event will show you how we treat wastewater from homes and streets to protect our rivers; the April 21 event at Baxter will show you how we turn raw river water into top-quality tap that meets or beats state and federal quality standards. All Philly residents with a valid ID are welcome at both. 

Those who attend will get a behind the scenes look at everything needed to deliver safe water and protect our rivers.

Participants can also:

  • Hear from Commissioner Debra McCarty, the first woman to lead PWD in its 200-year history.
  • Talk to Water Revenue experts and learn how we help customers save.
  • Meet some of the nation’s most-trusted water quality scientists, plant operators and more.
  • Learn how our city is leading the way with Green City, Clean Waters, America’s first large-scale green stormwater infrastructure program.

RSVP now!

Philadelphia Water Makes ASCE's 'Game Changer' List

Game Changer: Our Biogas Cogeneration facility at the Northeast WPCP is changing the way people think about wastewater management. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Game Changer: Our Biogas Cogeneration facility at the Northeast WPCP in Port Richmond is changing the way people think about wastewater management. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

The American Society of Civil Engineers rolled out a cool new campaign last week to highlight infrastructure projects around the country that they see as “game changers”—investments that have the potential to change the way we live for the better.

Making their list of innovative infrastructure was our very own Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant, a high-tech facility that treats an average of 188.12 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Located in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood, the 150-acre Northeast WPCP facility is our biggest and oldest wastewater treatment plant. So why is ASME calling it a “game changer”?

The Northeast WPCP is home to our Biogas Cogeneration facility, a modern marvel that essentially turns a harmful human waste byproduct—methane gas— into enough energy to power about 85 percent of the plant’s operations.

In cruder terms: it’s power from poop.

This infrastructure investment has a number of benefits, not least of which is a reduced operating cost, which helps to keep rates low for our customers. Considering energy consumption is by far one of the biggest expenses in water treatment, creating that much energy for our biggest wastewater plant is a big deal.

From a more altruistic perspective, the Biogas Cogeneration facility also acts as a double-edge sword in fighting climate change; we’re keeping a powerful greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere while simultaneously reducing the need for fossil fuel-sourced electricity.
That makes the facility a win-win-win scenario.

The ASCE also lauds our biosolids recycling program and efforts to replace aging pipes and water mains:

"… they have increased investment in water pipes by 25 percent in their latest capital improvement program. However the Department’s Strategic Energy Plan also looks to better manage future expenses – it includes a facility that will extract energy from material typically thought of as waste. … Their ultimate goal for all of the wastewater treatment plants in the City is to be net zero energy consumption."

You can check out the full story and other innovation success stories at ASCEGameChangers.org.

Learn more about our sustainability initiatives here and get an overview of how the Biogas facility works here.

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