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City of Philadelphia


Philadelphia’s sewer system was originally designed and built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Since then, the amount of pavement in our city has increased. Rain that used to soak into the ground now quickly runs across pavement into the sewer.
Why does flooding occur?
When a major storm hits, large volumes of water can fall in a relatively small area in a short period of time. This can overwhelm storm sewers and cause flooding and property damage.

Many factors can increase the risk of flooding, including blocked or broken pipes, poor lot grading, poor maintenance on one's property, and blocked inlets or sewer openings, which cause the excess water to flow to the next lowest location.

Flooding Dangers and What You Can Do To Be Safe
There are many ways to reduce the impacts of flooding and protect your family and property.
  • Find out if you qualify for PWD’s Basement Protection Program to prevent sewage backup at your property.
  • Avoid storing valuable possessions such as irreplaceable photo albums, artwork and important papers in your basement if it is prone to flooding. 
  • During flooding events, dangerous and life-threatening hazards may exist so it is very important to recognize these dangers. For example, avoid driving through flooded streets and intersections. To better protect your basement from flooding or to clean up your property after a flood, go to for information.
  • Flood insurance is strongly recommended. You can go to to determine insurance costs to your property and how to obtain flood insurance.
  • Call PWD’s hotline number (215-685-6300) where trained call center reps are available during severe weather to better address increased calls and customer problems.

Basement Protection Program

The Basement Backup Protection Program (BBPP) is an important first step in our effort to protect our customers’ properties from sewage backups during intense rain storms.

The BBPP may result in the installation of a backwater valve, free of charge to the property owner. The installation may be on your basement plumbing fixtures or on your main house drain, depending on the optimal installation at your particular property.

Download a summary and application for the Basement Backup Protection Program.


Understanding the nature of specific problems in neighborhoods is an important first step for the City to develop solutions. Please take the time to fill out this survey to help us better understand your flooding problem.