Catalyzing Investment in Urban Sustainability
U.S.-Brazil Joint Initiative on
Urban Sustainability


"Green City, Clean Waters"

Policy Overview

"Green City, Clean Waters" is Philadelphia's 25-year plan to protect and enhance the City's watersheds by managing stormwater primarily with innovative green infrastructure. As the City agency charged with ensuring compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) developed "Green City, Clean Waters" to reduce its Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), manage its stormwater runoff and associated pollution, and provide a clear pathway to a sustainable future by using green stormwater infrastructure systems that assist or mimic natural processes. PWD plans to invest approximately $2.4 billion in a combination of both treatment plant upgrades and green stormwater infrastructure over the next 25 years to fulfill "Green City, Clean Waters." The plan also emphasizes Philadelphia's commitment to planning its stormwater and water quality initiatives at the watershed level, focusing on source-level runoff reductions.

The "Green City, Clean Waters" plan builds on Philadelphia's stormwater regulations and ordinances, which strive to employ new approaches to stormwater management that include controls to improve the quality of the receiving streams and to increase groundwater recharge within the areas of water quality, channel protection, flood control, and non-structural site design.

The stormwater regulations ensure that Philadelphia has a progressive and effective stormwater program that meets the state and federal requirements while also coordinating with the changing regulations occurring in upstream municipalities.

In April 2012, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed a unique federal-city partnership to ensure the success of the "Green City, Clean Waters" plan and to present the plan as a global model for cities embracing green stormwater infrastructure.

How to Apply this Policy

Other cities may use "Green City, Clean Waters" as a model for their own watershed-scale stormwater mitigation or CSO management planning. They may also want to replicate some of the noted green infrastructure examples at the project level.

Contact Information
Philadelphia Water Department
Fax: +1 (215) 685-6043
Mail: Office of Watersheds
Philadelphia Water Department
1101 Market Street, 4th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Portland, OR, USA, has successfully implemented a number of green infrastructure measures to reduce stormwater runoff and associated water pollution.