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Streets, sidewalks & alleys

Submit a plumber backfill notification

Before you begin

  1. Apply for Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) permits for connections to the water main or sewer and for water meters. Contact PWD at (215) 685-6271 or email to begin this process.
  2. Read the regulations for street openings, excavations, and restorations.

Service overview

A plumber’s ditch is a hole that a plumber digs in to repair the service lateral or sewer line. The plumber must backfill the ditch once the work is completed.

Plumbers must notify the Department of Streets when they complete backfill work on City streets. The Department of Streets uses this information to schedule permanent repair of the roadway. The plumber is responsible to keep the ditch in a safe condition for 30 days after the backfill notification is received by the Department of Streets or until the Department of Streets begins the permanent restoration, whichever comes first.

Plumbers that fail to provide backfill notification to Streets may be:

  • Subject to penalties specified in the Philadelphia Code.
  • Prohibited from purchasing new plumber ditch permits.
  • At risk of losing permission to operate in the right-of-way.

Developers have the option to restore utility ditches at their own cost. You must make this selection when applying to PWD for a plumbing permit before beginning your project.


Licensed plumbers with PWD permits for roadway work.


A plumber must have a street opening or footway permit, as appropriate, for any work that involves digging in the public right of way.

Ditches and other street openings cannot be backfilled until PWD and impacted utilities have finished any required testing.


To submit a notification, log in to the plumber backfill notification website. Enter your eight-digit permit number to begin the process.