Philadelphia Water Department visits Fox Chase

PWD representative gives residents advice on what to do if a pipe bursts in your home.

It was a watery Fox Chase Town Watch and Homeowners Association meeting on Jan. 10, in more ways than one.

A representative from the Philadelphia Water Department gave a presentation with important facts and statistics about water in the city, including what to do if your pipes burst. Which was fitting, because the meeting had to be relocated from its typical meeting place at Loudenslager Post due to a burst pipe.

In a conference room Councilman Brian O’Neill’s staff opened for the meeting after discovering the usual place was inaccessible, Joanne Dahme from PWD talked about how to read your water bills.

The average water bill in the city is $70.87. Amounts obviously vary, but on average $24.67 goes toward drinking water, $18.83 goes toward sewer water and $14.12 goes toward stormwater. An average service fee of $13.15 caps it off.

On average, rates break down to spending $2.36 on water per day — which, as Dahme pointed out, is less than the cost of many Starbucks beverages. An average home uses 150 gallons of water a day.

Dahme said there has been an influx of calls about burst pipes during the cold weather, and urged residents to be patient when trying to get through. It usually takes between six and eight hours to make repairs to a burst pipe.

“Crews are working 18-hour days,” Dahme said.

If you lose water, Dahme advises checking in with neighbors to make sure they still had water. If they did, your pipes may be frozen, in which case she advises calling a plumber, which would be much quicker than calling PWD.

“You can hold a blow dryer to a frozen pipe to heat it,” she said, though stressed to never use an open flame.

Dahme said that over the next six years PWD is hoping to increase the amount of water mains replaced in the city per year. The average water main in the city is 70 years old, which she said isn’t especially old (they can last up to 100 years). But PWD is starting to think about replacing them.

“Right now we are looking to increase over the next six years going from 22 miles to 42 miles a year,” she said.

Dahme also discussed financial aid programs PWD offers. The Tiered Assistance Program and the Homeowner’s Emergency Loan Programs offer relief to those struggling to pay their bills. To learn more about the programs, head to phila.gov/water/educationoutreach/customerassistance.

In other news, Tom Hibbs from Penn-Tammany Greenway Coalition stopped by to discuss the Penn-Tammany Greenway trail that will pass through the area.

The trail will run from around South State Street in Newtown to County Line Road in Southampton. It will connect to the Pennypack Trail, Tamanend Park, Churchville Reservoir, and, in the future, the Neshaminy Creek Trail. It will only dip into the Fox Chase area for half a mile.

The multi-use trail is part of a rails-to-trails initiative that will convert several miles of unused train tracks into a recreational pathway.

Last week’s presentation was met with quiet optimism, quite a difference from last meeting’s trail discussion.

In other news:

The Homeowners Association elections will be held next month. A volunteer has come forward for every position. George Bezanis will continue to serve as president, while Kate Friend will serve as vice president, Rose Hontscharik will serve as secretary, Mo Finklestein will serve as corresponding treasurer, Frank Blasick will serve as Treasurer, Vincent Carnuccio will serve as Assistant treasurer, Craig Turner will serve as zoning director, and Chuck Tucker will serve as sergeant-at-arms.

No crime update was given as police community relation officers were unable to attend. The next meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the usual location at 7976 Oxford Ave. ••