What we do
The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) serves over 2 million people in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, and Bucks counties. We use science and technology to assure quality water 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For nearly 200 years, our department has made sure that the City has the clean, safe water it needs.
PWD works to:
- Deliver safe water to homes and businesses.
- Protect our region’s watersheds and the natural environment.
- Maintain our sewer system so communities stay healthy.
- Manage runoff from storms to prevent pollution and flooding.
- Keep thousands of miles of pipes in good operating condition.
Debra A. McCarty received her bachelor’s in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1979. After a brief stint with a consulting engineering firm in Lancaster, Pa., she joined the Philadelphia Water Department in 1982.
McCarty’s long career at the Philadelphia Water Department is a result of her passion and dedication to public service and to the mission and operation of a water, wastewater and stormwater utility. McCarty moved through the civil service system starting as a graduate civil engineer at the department’s Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant and progressively attained management roles of increased responsibility. In 2004, she was appointed as the deputy commissioner and director of operations for the Water Department. In that position, she oversaw the operation and maintenance of three drinking water treatment plants, three wastewater treatment plants, and contract operations of a biosolids facility. She also oversaw the operation and maintenance of 3,200 miles of water mains, 3,500 miles of sewers, 79,000 inlets, 25,000 fire hydrants, and various pumping stations throughout the city. She headed a division of approximately 1,400 employees. McCarty was appointed Water commissioner by Mayor Kenney in January 2016.
Additionally, McCarty has served on numerous boards, including her current role as president of her neighborhood civic association. When she can, she also enjoys biking or hiking with her dog in Fairmount Park, attending cultural activities in Philadelphia, purchasing fresh produce from local farmers at Reading Terminal Market and Clark Park, and gardening.