Research Rest-Stop │ Philadelphia Continues to be a National Leader in Stormwater Management

Every Wednesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) highlights some interesting research related to or innovations in transportation, sustainability, or energy.


The City of Philadelphia has been recognized for its innovative stormwater management techniques in a recently-released report, “Rooftops to Rivers II,” by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report presents 14 case studies that demonstrate different strategies used by cities to develop “green” infrastructure, manage stormwater, and encourage public participation in these efforts. The NRDC praises the Philadelphia Water Department as the only agency to employ all of the 14 examples evaluated, suggests that Philadelphia could potentially serve as a model for new federal standards.

The report looks the success of each case study in implementing the following strategies:

  • Designating a fraction of sewer and stormwater fees for green infrastructure implementation
  • Directing developers to consider green infrastructure over other methods
  • Requiring on-site stormwater management for new developments
  • Offering incentives to private land owners to plant trees, install solar panels, and limit impervious surface
  • Providing do-it-yourself advice to homeowners about “greening” their homes
  • Developing a comprehensive plan primarily focused on green infrastructure implementation

The report ranked Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, as employing the highest number of these strategies. Only Philadelphia, however, was found to employ all of the recommended strategies.

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently updating the national stormwater regulations found under the federal Clean Water Act, and it is likely that these regulations will recommend that the current measures occurring in places like Philadelphia be widely replicated. Having these measures in place helps to reduce water pollution, make communities more attractive, and limit urban “heat island” effects.

The Water Department is leading the way to a more sustainable future on a nation wide scale.  You can learn more about their efforts in Philadelphia by checking out the City of Philadelphia’s “2011 Greenworks Progress Report.” To learn more about Philadelphia’s other “green” initiatives, visit the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability website.


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