Faced with aging sewer systems, stricter water quality regulations from the US EPA, and a commitment to provide a safe and affordable water supply to its customers, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) adopted the Green City, Clean Waters plan in 2011. By installing GSI projects to capture and manage the first inch of stormwater that falls, PWD plans to reduce stormwater impacts on Philadelphia’s sewer systems and rivers, while also helping to revitalize the city. Over 25 years, the City plans to invest $2.4 billion in green projects to capture and infiltrate 85% of the stormwater that is now collected by its combined sewer system.
The Philadelphia Water Department partners with city residents, non-profit organizations, schools, and local businesses to encourage the use of green stormwater infrastructure. The Raincheck program provides rain barrels and downspout planters at low-cost to homeowners; it also helps them design and install rain gardens. Businesses who install porous pavement, green roofs, or other GSI projects receive stormwater fee credits for their stormwater bills.
How successful has Philadelphia’s program been? In the five years since the plan began:
- 441 GSI sites have been installed
- 1.5 billion gallons of polluted water are being kept out of Philadelphia’s rivers each year