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Green City Clean Waters: Philadelphia is the #1 Leader in H2O (and the EPA said so.)
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Green City Clean Waters: Philadelphia is the #1 Leader in H2O (and the EPA said so.)

Green infrastructure tools for the Green City Clean Waters PlanThis past Tuesday, April 10th, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Mayor Michael Nutter & city officials signed an official agreement at the Fairmount Water Works that recognized Philadelphia’s Green City Clean Waters Plan as an innovative approach to storm water management.  This is huge – basically, Philly’s setting the standard as a national model for green infrastructure.

Sooo what does this mean to me? Does it sound like spanish to you?

It means this: Philly’s #1 again!

I’m quite excited to share this news and am also revealing a secret: I’ve attended the Philly Water Department’s 5-week training to learn about the plan in-depth.  They started a program to educate city residents about how the plan works and how we can get cool structures in our neighborhood.  (Yes. We, as a Philly residents, can suggest projects to prevent streets from flooding in our own territory.)

Why Storm Water is a Problem in Philly

Example of Rain Capture Planter
Example of Rain Capture Planter in South Philadelphia

You know how you hear of someone who did a “triathlon”, only they couldn’t do the swim portion because it rained the day before and the Schuylkill River wasn’t fit for swimmers? Do you get frustrated and soaked when it rains for an hour in the summer because the streets are flooding?  Essentially, our water (or storm water) overflows the combined sewer and runs back to the street.  And then all the pollutants flood the Schuylkill (which is why those athletes) can’t swim in it.  We could fix it 1 of 2 ways: Tear apart the streets and expand the pipes, or find green places the water can ‘go’ until our sewer system has caught up.  The Philly Water Department’s come up with quite a few creative ways that handle the water, as well as make the city a little prettier.

EPA says Philly is Number 1!

Last June, Philadelphia along with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) agreed on the Green City Clean Waters plan, which also comply with both the Federal Clean Water Act & State Clean Streams Law. Managing urban storm water runoff is one of the 21st centuries greatest challenges (I’ll also nominate fracking as another threat) to our river & stream quality. The EPA is excited to accept and approve our plan, which is the most economically conservative plan in the USA. Woohoo – We’re #1!

Green City Clean Waters 101

Porous Pavement on Percy St – South Philly

The green technologies from the Green City Clean Waters plan include capturing rainwater on the surface of our city (on streets, parking lots, schools, public spaces) into urban landscapes like green roofs, rain gardens, rain barrels, “bump out” systems, porous pavement & more that reduce sewer overflows.  The $2 billion dollar plan will take 25 years to roll out, but in the end, the entire city will be more beautiful.

The plan has a lot of great incentives for businesses and homeowners, and I’ll write more in the coming weeks about the plans. If you have specific questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments & I’m happy to answer them.

 

Header pic from Philly Water Department Website

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

3 thoughts on “Green City Clean Waters: Philadelphia is the #1 Leader in H2O (and the EPA said so.)

  1. Thanks for the great post. How did you get involved with the PWD 5-week training program? I’ve been keeping up on Green City, Clean Waters and have never heard of a training program like that. Any info you can offer is much appreciated. Thanks!

  2. Hey Katy! I found out by reading a neighborhood newsletter/website. The Water Department said they’ll be doing more trainings in the future so I can send them an email for you for more info. Let me know if you end up doing it!

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