EPA highlights Philadelphia's efforts to lead nation in smarter, greener ways to clean up local waterways

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

NRDC, along with local partner organizations, has been working closely with the city to support the development and implementation of its groundbreaking “Green City, Clean Waters” plan – a program for 20+ years of citywide green infrastructure investments. We have provided assistance to the Philadelphia Water Department, 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 the cities’ 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. 

As I’ve highlighted in previously, 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.