Philadelphia seeks 16.9% water rate increase, citing revenue erosion from pandemic

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March 12, 2021 - 11:36am

Critical Commentary

In mid-February, the Philadelphia Water Department announced it was seeking a 16.9% residential rate increase phased in over two years that would boost a typical customer’s bill by $11.72 a month.The agency stated that it was forced to induce a steep increase because it deferred increasing rates last year due to COVID-19, and also due to a dramatic fall in revenue last year after the city barred shut-offs of customers behind on their bills.

A typical residential bill for a customer using 500 cubic feet of water a month (3,740 gallons) would increase $7.74 a month to $74.47, or 11.6%, on Sept. 1, under the proposal. Bills would increase an additional $3.98 to $78.45 on Sept. 1, 2022, or 5.3%.

The rate increase request, which applies only to city customers, would generate an additional $49 million in the first year and an additional $32 million in the second year. The city said it needs more money to maintain existing service, improve infrastructure, offset lower collections and consumption, and replenish “limited financial reserves.”

The five-member Water, Sewer, and Storm Water Rate Board was created as an independent body by a 2012 Home Rule Charter change. It will schedule public hearings and technical hearings to evaluate the proposed rate request. A final decision is expected by June 16. The rate board last granted the water department an increase in 2018, when it allowed water bills to increase only about 1% over two years. The Water Department had requested an 11% increase over two years.


Maykuth, A. (2021, February 16). Philadelphia seeks 16.9% water rate increase, Citing revenue erosion FROM PANDEMIC. Retrieved March 12, 2021, from

Cite as

Andrew Maykuth, "Philadelphia seeks 16.9% water rate increase, citing revenue erosion from pandemic", contributed by Morgan Sarao and Alison Kenner, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 12 March 2021, accessed 13 July 2024.