2018 National Planning Conference

Drink the Water: Trust Us!

Sunday, April 14, 2019 from 1 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. PDT

CM | 1.25

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC198044

Location: 2009

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  • Engage in research that will be useful for identifying local behavior trends and developing plans and programs that address those concerns.
  • Understand ways to engage with low-income and minority populations in their constituencies.
  • Learn to carry out creative ideas for engagement with residents at the individual level that will be useful in all planning contexts, from comprehensive and long-term planning to program development.


Philadelphia Water Department staff and contractors and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a survey and research program to better understand customer satisfaction, needs and perceptions of PWD services and programs. The research program includes implementation of research-based decisions that directly affect programs and operations.

Our finding that low-income and minority Philadelphians are significantly more likely to purchase and consume bottled water has major financial, health and environmental consequences for Philadelphians. This session covers the research process and key findings at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the strategies planners are using to educate, build trust, and promote safe, clean drinking water for all in the city.

These strategies include creating a working group with representatives from city agencies and nonprofits to change key policies; a drinking water ambassadors program; education and outreach; as well as placemaking interventions including murals and pop-up water stations. Ongoing evaluation and multilingual education are key aspects of addressing water consumption disparities in historically marginalized Philadelphia neighborhoods.

In the wake of the Flint water crisis, planners need to ensure that safe, clean drinking water is a priority for their communities. This session explores the planner’s role in this public health issue.

Session Speakers

Hailey B. Stern
Trans-Pacific Engineering Corp
Philadelphia, PA

Nina Hoe
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

Tiffany Ledesma
CDM Smith
Narberth, PA

Fay Strongin
Trans-Pacific Engineering Corporation
Philadelphia, PA