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Client Alert: Philadelphia's New 2010 Sewer and Stormwater Changes

01.29.10

Beginning on July 1, 2010, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) will begin to assess monthly charges to residential and non-residential properties for sewer service and for discharges to the main sewer system from private, on-site stormwater management systems and equipment.  Such systems include simple catch basin collection to untreated discharges to the City sewer system.
 
Generally, current PWD water and sewer changes are based upon the amount of water used, as measured by on-site water usage meters.  But that will now change.
 
Sewer Charges:        
 
PWD will assess separate, monthly charges based upon a (1) Service Charge, and (2) Quantity Charge.  The Service Charge will be based upon the size of the meter(s) servicing the property.  The Quantity Charge will be based upon either metered or estimated water usage or consumption. 
 
Quantity Charges will vary from property to property as meter sizes and usage varies by property, but the formula will start at $20.51/Mcf, and increase to $22.14/Mcf by July 1, 2011, where:
Mcf = 1,000 ft.3   = 7,480 gallons
 
Stormwater Management Charges:

PWD will be charging all properties –including undeveloped properties-- a stormwater management service charge (SMSC) beginning on July 1, 2010.  Changes will be based upon property size/area and characteristics (i.e., whether the property is residential or non-residential).  Condominium properties will be charged as non-residential properties.

1.    Residential Properties:
 
The formula will have a charge for SMSC and a second charge for “Billing & Collection”.  They are flat rate charges. 
 
The SMSC and Billing & Collection charges will start at $10.99/month and increase to $11.06/month by July 1, 2011.  The Billing and Collection charge will start at $2,49/month and increase to $2.60/month by July 1, 2003.
 
2.      Non-Residential Properties:
 
This formula will have a charge for SMSC based upon the monthly usage metering, a second charge for “Billing and Collection”, and a third charge based upon the size/area of the property.  The SMSC and Billing and Collection are flat rate charges.

  • The SMSC and Billing & Collection charges will be based upon the size of the usage meter.  The initial charge will increase through June 30, 2012.
  • The SMSC charge will start at $10.99/month and increase to $11.06/month by July 1, 2013. 
  • The Billing & Collection charge starts at $2.29/month and increases to $2.60/month by July 1, 2013.
  • Sewer credits will be available, if demonstrated, for amounts of City water used, but not discharged to the City sewer system (i.e. consumed).                   
The property-based SMSC charge will be based upon the property’s:
 
  •  Gross Area (GA)[1], and 
  •  Impervious Area (IA) 
   Generally, the formula for charges will start at:
  • $0.526/500 sf GA per month
  • $4.145/500 sf IA per month
  • 2.53 per month
                       
and will increase to the following by July 1, 2011:
  • $0.526/500 sf GA per month
  • 4.169/500 sf IA per month
  • 2.65 per month
           
From July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013, SMSC/Billing & Collection metering charges will transition to a property-based SMSC charge based upon a blended formula until July 1, 2013, when the entire charges will be property-based
.[2]
          
As an example, the impact of these new charges will result in a property owner, having a 1-acre paved parking lot, possibly incurring an additional monthly charge of $406.94 for that acre. 
 
 
Appeal Rights

The PWD will notify property owners 60 days prior to issuing a bill for these charges.  The PWD notice will state how PWD calculated the GA and IA charges.  At that time, the property owner may file an appeal with the PWD under new procedures to challenge the GA, IA, and/or property classification determinations that are the basis of the bill.

A property owner also may apply for credits to reduce the GA and/or IA charges based upon the parameters that include approved PWD stormwater management practices to address IA runoff, and for a program that provides for a stormwater management program that provides an actual overall demand reduction to the City sewer system.
           
There is much more to the bill calculations, available credits, and appeal process.

*      *      *      *
We can evaluate your properties and prepare strategies to reduce the anticipated charges, whether it be by re-engineering your property site plan to reduce pervious coverage, or by appealing the charges and how they were calculated based upon property area and characterization.  We have been working with Bohler Engineering in understanding the impact of these new changes to property owners and they are available to assist in this process as well.

Please contact
Ronald J. Patterson (215) 569-4585, rpatterson@klehr.com or Carl S. Primavera  (215) 569-1663, cprimavera@klehr.com of Klehr Harrison’s Land Use & Environmental Department, if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further.



[1]    GA - all areas within the legal description in the deed of the property.
         IA - all surfaces of the property covered with materials that are not
               water-permeable, like paved areas, roofs, and patios.
 
[2]     During the transition, the formula is as follows:
  • July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011:               75% metering – 25% property-based
  • July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012:               50% metering – 50% property-based
  • July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013:               25% metering – 75% property-based
  • July 1, 2013:                                         0% metering – 100% property-based