water main

Just One Water Main Replacement Project = 4X the Comcast Center, And Some

This blog is part of our Infrastructure Week 2017 campaign. See our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for exclusive content not available on the blog. We’ll be talking about a variety of projects and topics May 15-19. Learn more about the infrastructure that keeps our city running and help us make the case for smart investments in our nation’s water, roads, bridges, airports and more.

If you follow local news at all, you’ve probably seen some of the dramatic footage showing major water main breaks that have left the stores of Bakers Centre in East Falls flooded three times in just three years:

Breaks like those at Bakers Centre are unusual for a few reasons, not least of which is amount of water that spilled. In Philadelphia over the last five years, we’ve average a little over two main breaks per day—a rate that is actually less than the national average. Most of our breaks involve mains that are under two inches in diameter and don’t make the news because the impacts are, in comparison, minor.

Two-Year Rate Change Requested to Replace Water Mains, Sewers, Aging Infrastructure and More

Philadelphia Water crews replace a main in the Graduate Hospital area. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Philadelphia Water crews replace a main in the Graduate Hospital area. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Today, we notified City Council and the City’s independent Water Rate Board that Philadelphia Water needs to request a rate increase that would go into effect on July 1, 2016.

The increase we proposed amounts to 11.7 percent over a two-year period, and would raise the typical residential bill $8 per month by 2018. The chart below breaks down the changes a typical residential customer would see:

 

We know that no one likes to hear about rates going up. We don’t ask for a rate change unless we need it, and we want to make sure our customers have the all the facts.

Through Rain, Sleet, Snow and Papal Madness, We'll Be Here

The stars of Philadelphia Water's customer service call center: They'll be on the line 24/7 during the Pope's visit. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
The stars of Philadelphia Water's customer service call center: they'll be on the line 24/7 during the Pope's visit, as will all essential staff who respond to customer needs. Photo credit: Philadelphia Water.

With Pope Francis just days away from his historic visit to the City of Brotherly Love, you can almost feel the excitement in the air. Like other city agencies and utilities, we've been engaged in months of planning to make sure the visit goes smoothly.

But, just as important, we want to make sure our level of service to every customer remains intact throughout the Pope's stay. Because providing clean, fresh water is the most essential service a city can provide, we never take a breakand we'll be on the clock, as always, 24/7 throughout the World Meeting of Families.

That means water main and sewer repair crews and equipment will be on hand to respond to an emergency anywhere in the city. And it means that our dedicated customer service staff will be on hand to answer any calls to our water help hotline, which you can reach by dialing 215 685 6300. Even our inlet cleaning crews will be on hand to make sure trash and other debris isn't blocking stormwater from the sewers. (For the latest official Pope-in-Philly info from the city, you can visit a special Phila.gov page set up for the occasion by clicking here.)

Now, a little bit about what you can do. If you're a Francis fan, you probably already know that one of his first major statements, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, centered entirely on environmental concerns. In that letter, he specifically calls out our "throwaway culture" and its impact on the earth.

Like any event of this size, the Pope's visit to our city is likely to generate a huge amount of waste. In fact, one company has already pledged to donate 1 million 12 oz. disposable water bottles. It's a generous gesture and we know how important it is for people to stay hydrated, but since studies show that about 70% of plastic bottles never make it to the recycling plant, that means some 700,000 of those bottles very well may become litter that could end up in our rivers and parks and will still be polluting the earth generations from now. Even if we manage to recycle every bottle, there's also the air pollution associated with producing, delivering and refrigerating bottled water.

If you are one of the many people heading downtown for papal events, consider doing our planet a favor by using a refillable bottle that takes advantage of a modern miracle: cheap, safe and abundant tap water. Philadelphia Water will be providing water connections for event organizers, who will offer filling stations. It might seem like a small gesture in the fight against our throwaway culture, but if everyone takes the pledge to ditch disposable bottles, it will have a big impact.

Want to help spread the word about using refillable bottles? We created a funny Pope meme you can share on Facebook and Twitter with the #PopeInPhilly and #CleanWatersPHL hashtags:

The Pope thinks reusable bottles are a great idea!  PS: Keep an eye on this blog for more on the Pope's Philadelphia Water reusable bottle. It's a real thing we'll be talking about soon!

UPDATE: Samantha Phillips, director of the City of Philadelphia's Office of Emergency Management, has announced a new text alert system specifically for the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit.

“If you are planning to attend this historic event, we encourage you to sign up for text alerts for the Pope’s visit to get real time information of real importance,” says Phillips. “Having piece of mind is part of enjoying the event.”

Enrolling is easy. Text “papalvisit” to 888777 and you will be registered. It’s that simple, and that important.

Alerts will be sent through the duration of the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit. Message and data rates may apply depending upon your plan with your service provider.

In addition, the City of Philadelphia offers ReadyPhiladelphia, which allows subscribers to sign up for emergency or weather alerts by text, email, and phone or the Everbridge app. ReadyPhiladephia is available year round to those who live and work in the city. Subscribers can get alerts for up to five locations in the city that are important to them. To sign up for ReadyPhiladelphia, go to www.phila.gov/ready and click on “Sign Up For Alerts”.

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