Green City, Clean Waters Plan Approved

The City of Philadelphia has received final approval on its $2 billion stormwater management plan, “Green City, Clean Waters”. Environmental officials are calling it the largest U.S. project to reduce stormwater pollution through eco-friendly measures. The plan was approved on June 1st, 2011 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The unique nature of the plan could revolutionize urban stormwater management and serve as a model for other cities.

The purpose of the plan is to modify the stormwater infrastructure to reduce the amount of contaminated water that enters rivers and streams. The plan is expected to reduce the amount of sewer overflow entering city waterways by 5 to 8 billion gallons per year. This is an 80 to 90% reduction in flow. Traditional stormwater plans include sewage plant expansions or underground tank constructions, however Philadelphia decided more than a decade ago to take a different approach.

The plan includes several green infrastructure projects to attain water quality goals and also to mitigate climate change impacts while stimulating economic development. The projects include incorporating porous asphalt, bioswales, rooftop gardens, street repaving, roadside plantings, and thousands of new trees.

Funding for the project will come from city water fees, state and federal grants and loans, and private investors and foundations. The Philadelphia Water Department estimates an $8 increase to the typical resident’s monthly water bill over the next twenty years.

“We are thrilled and grateful that DEP has recognized the incredible environmental and public value of this plan, (which) makes significant progress toward Philadelphia becoming the greenest city in the country,” Mayor Michael Nutter said. The plan will begin with a 6-month assessment of the city to determine where to start first.

The entire plan is available on the Philadelphia Water Department website, here!

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