Green City, Clean Waters

storm drain gardenGreen City, Clean Waters is
Philadelphia’s plan to reduce
stormwater pollution currently
entering our Combined Sewer System through the use of
green infrastructure.

Green City, Clean Waters represents a major shift in the way we think about and deal with stormwater in Philadelphia. We’re recreating the living landscapes that once slowed, filtered, and consumed rainfall by adding green to our streets, sidewalks, roofs, schools, parks, parking lots
and more — any impermeable surface that’s currently funneling
stormwater into our sewers and waterways is fair game for greening.
It’s going to take decades of work, but when it’s all done, we’ll have
reduced the stormwater pollution entering our waterways by a stunning 85 percent.
That means rivers and streams that are swimmable, fishable, drinkable on a level
exceeding even the memory of Philadelphia’s oldest residents.
By employing green tools instead of just relying on traditional infrastructure
like pipes and storage basins, we meet standards set by the Clean Water Act
while saving Philadelphia an estimated $5.6 billion.
1,100 green stormwater tools have been added to our landscape since
Green City, Clean Waters was adopted in June 2011.
Read more at Green City, Clean Waters. Why now?

Rain Barrel PlanterGreen Stormwater

Trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses help manage rainwater, or stormwater, by diverting water and preventing it from becoming runoff via infiltration, evapotranspiration, and filtration. First, plant leaves, branches, and flowers catch the rain drops before the water hits the ground and becomes runoff. The stormwater collected on these surfaces can easily evaporate into the air and never have to be managed in traditional sewer and stormwater collection systems.
Furthermore, plants help manage stormwater runoff by allowing water to infiltrate into the soil and by evapotranspiration, the process in which water is taken up by a plant’s roots and transpired through its leaves. Last, plants and soil also help by filtering stormwater runoff.
Read more about Green Stormwater Infrastructure Tools.

Soak It Up signagePhilly is about to soak up some serious green IQ.

Patches of green all over the city – we’re talking 36 locations in 18 neighborhoods – are home to vibrant, colorful signs distilling the concepts behind Philadelphia Water’s green tools with diagrams and descriptions.
The signs, the first in the U.S. to explain a city’s green infrastructure system, give the inside scoop on seven types of green infrastructure we commonly use and can be seen outside the Northern Liberties Community Center.


Philadelphia Water Fact: Philadelphia Water is replacing 37 miles of water mains this fiscal year – a 60 percent increase over 2014. Learn more on our Watersheds Blog.


Archival Sewer pic 400pxPWD has preserved its own collection of historical material, which is a rich source of information.

Historical Consultant, Adam Levine, has supplemented that base with research in local libraries, historical societies, archives and relevant departments of the city government.
See his blog and archival photographs at


PWD video graphic 2This video shows
the importance of
cleaning up after
your pet.

Animal waste acts as a fertilizer in water, promoting excessive plant growth than can choke waterways, increase algal blooms and harm aquatic life. Animal waste also contains disease-causing bacteria that contaminate our waterways and, essentially, our drinking water sources.