Water \

Local Water Access for Production Almost all producers in Philadelphia access a municipal water source. A few large sites at the edge of the city may consider a well for water access. Many gardens also collect some rainwater. If you are using rainwater for produce, please read about food safety rules regarding rainwater use in production below. If you are accessing a municipal source, then the water is tested regularly (see Philadelphia Drinking Water Quality Report site below). Many producers access water temporarily from a fire hydrant. To do this legally requires a free hydrant permit from the Philadelphia Water Department (see below PWD permit) and a backflow preventer, which prevents contamination by water flowing backwards into the source water. Backflow preventers cost around $150 (see some local sources below) if you do not receive one free from PWD. For longer term planning, many producer sites get a permanent water hookup and a frost free hydrant. Frost-free hydrants can be used in below-freezing temperatures and drain naturally back below the frost line when they are turned off. This option is important for long-term four season production, particularly for use of hoophouses and greenhouses. Permanent water hookups generally cost between $10,000 and $60,000 depending on the site constraints and the distance the line must travel from the PWD lines that already exist. We recommend getting at least three estimates from different sources before installation of a line. Permanent water lines also create a permanent water bill. This bill is split into two parts, a stormwater charge that relates to the amount of impermeable surface at the site, and a water use charge, which correlates with the volume of water used. If you are improving a green space, check with PWD for potential discounts to the stormwater charge.

Link and Document Resources:

  • Fire Hydrant Access
    This site explains the current process for a production space to access a fire hydrant for water
  • PWD Billing Information
    This site provides information about your Philadelphia water bills
  • Drinking Water Quality
    This site provides Philadelphia's annual water quality report. This report is used for food safety plans if your water source is municipal water.