40% of households in Philadelphia can't pay their water bill


It’s not going to get cheaper in Philly - many of the water mains are breaking and were installed in the 1800’s. They have a 50 year service time.


That would get you a whole month of insurance, maybe two if the insurance is cheap and the phone is expensive. It’s really curious how people who are into “fiscal responsibility” just don’t understand how much things cost.


The little town near me had clay pipes all through town, and who knows how old they were. Like, no one knows because there are no existing records, at least according to the guy who used to run the water department.

They had boil orders 1 or 2 days out of every week, for years, because no one wanted to pay to replace the pipes.

I think it was the local housing boom that changed that, because no one wanted to buy a brand new house in the town that always had boil orders on the evening news. Before I moved here, it was all I knew of the town, and was really happy the house is on a well.

But, of course, doing that in a town of 2000 people is a whole different planet compared Detroit or Philadelphia.


Oh, my, no wonder your town always has boil warnings. Clay pipe isn’t for potable water, it’s for sanitary and storm sewer. Maybe the guy was talking about asbestos cement pipe? It’s very stable if you never dig around it. If you start digging around it, you will have constant water main breaks until you replace it.


The “water bill” is deceptive in cities because it includes the sewers, proportionally based on your water usage. In many places the water supply is ok, it’s the sewers that are crumbling. The problem is and has always been that no one gets elected and re-elected with the slogan “I will maintain our infrastructure!” Politicians support sexy new builds, or spreading the money around to buy support among unions and interest groups. The same “take care of today and fuck tomorrow” attitude has led to the underfunded pension crises here in NJ and elsewhere.


Possibly, it was several years ago that we had that conversation, and there is no going back to ask. He’s since passed away.

I do recall that there was some issue with the relative locations of water and sewer pipes.

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Or the water table drops below the pump.

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One big thing not mentioned here is tech & bill paying methods! I live in Philadelphia and my bill is often late/deliquent because the method to pay it online is archaic. If you don’t know you’re 20 digit account number, you can’t pay your bill. No user username or password logins. There is no auto pay. I often go to pay my water bill during the day at work and I can’t because I don’t know my account number, and then forget to do it at night.

IMO, if they updated their bill pay process, they might be in a slightly better position. Atleast with me.


Fortunately my credit union recognizes the PWD as a payee so I don’t have to worry about all that after setting up bill payer, but I do still have to log in and manually enter the payment amount and click send. Only utility I have to do that for. Even PGW has this figured out, and they’re city-owned. Also they managed to mangle my name (can’t copy off the deed correctly, apparently?) and I can’t be bothered to get down to the MSB to deal with it.


My water supplier charges $5 for every online payment. I send them checks.


Jesus, it’s like you’re a third world country!

I pay £300ish per year, which is taken out of our account by Direct Debit* every month.

*We get a discount for this


That’s enough out of you. :slight_smile:


If the water able drops it’s time to call in the Connecticut Yankee.

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We’re not in a drought situation, but what do I know. Well into adulthood I thought there was a big underground lake we were all tapped into. Edit – with columns, obviously, so it wouldn’t all cave in.

Incorrect. The United States is clearly a FRIST-world country.

(Source: I’m a U.S. citizen and former Philly resident.)


Does that mean that 40% of the people in Philadelphia don’t have water?

When my parents built their house in South Dakota there wasn’t rural water yet (1978) so we got water tanks. Every week or so a truck would deliver drinking water; the other tank was filled with rain water from the roof, and used for toilets and outside houses. In an emergency we could switch to the rain water. There were a LOT of valves downstairs in the utility closet.


Water price varies quite a bit by location in the USA . Where I live, I get sewer, water, trash pickup, curb-side recycling for $75 per month. It adds up to $900 per year, around £740. But water’s only part of that package.

I’m pretty sure my city isn’t the least expensive in the USA.

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Not necessarily. Having one’s water shut off takes a while, there are a lot of notices and opportunities to get into a payment plan that have to be offered first by law, and certain segments of the population (elderly, for example) have some protection from having a shut-off at all, I believe. The other problem that can crop up is rental properties, which of course are more common in the city. The water bill is in the name of the property owner, not the tenant like other utilities, so deadbeat landlords could be driving part of the issue.