Philadelphia is Leading the United States in Smarter, Greener Ways to Clean up Its Waters


Philadelphia_ Green-City

Green City, Clean Waters

PHILADELPHIA–Mayor Michael Nutter, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson met in Philadelphia in April to highlight the city’s investment in smarter, greener ways to clean up its waterways, known as “green infrastructure.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and its partner organizations have been working closely with the city to implement its groundbreaking green infrastructure plan. They have provided assistance to the city, as well as state and federal environmental agencies that oversee the city’s clean water programs, on how these methods can be used to meet Philadelphia’s Clean Water Act obligations, by reducing billions of gallons of sewage overflow into area waterways each year.

Green infrastructure methods stop rain where it falls – retaining it or allowing it to filter back into the ground, rather than becoming runoff pollution that contaminates waterways and triggers sewer overflows. These methods can take a variety of forms – from green roofs, to increased park space, porous pavement, roadside plantings, cisterns and tree boxes.

Statements follow from NRDC senior water attorney Lawrence Levine and Brian Glass, senior attorney for Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture):

“Philadelphia is setting a national model for smarter, greener ways to clean up troubled rivers, lakes and beaches. Green infrastructure is often the best and most cost-effective way to tackle water pollution. The city is pioneering a broad investment in measures that not only deliver cleaner water, but dramatically improve the overall health and quality of life for its residents at the same time. The rest of the country would be wise to take notice.”

“The Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters initiative is a terrific way to clean up our environment and grow the economy. It is an outside-the-box, innovative, cost-effective, and green solution to the problem of sewer overflows that will improve our rivers, make our water safer, and make Philadelphia a more vibrant place to live, work, and play.”

Philadelphia’s Bold Plan

Philadelphia’s plan envisions transforming the city into an oasis of rain gardens, green roofs, treescapes, and porous pavements, which advocates say is cheaper than tunnels and makes for a more liveable, prettier city with higher property values and better community health.

To Learn More:

To read more about Philadelphia’s bold plan for green infrastructure, click on these links to access stories previously published on Water Bucket:Philadelphia: green city, clean waters

Philadelphia has produced a video that explains how this green vision will be accomplished over time. Click on Green City, Blue Waters from the GreenTreks Network. And click here to access the homepage for the Philadelphia Water Department’s Office of Watersheds.

About NRDC and PennFuture

Founded in  1970, the Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state’s environment and economy. The PennFuture motto is “Every environmental victory grows the economy.” The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the state’s “leading environmental advocacy organization.”


Posted April 2011