Cities all over the country have been prioritizing clean water through a variety of different programs and the City of Brotherly Love is among the ranks.

Philadelphia has launched an ambitious, 25-year plan known as “Green City, Clean Waters” that seeks to protect watersheds through better stormwater management and innovative green infrastructure. The charge is being led by the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD).

“Philadelphia”, Mario Cuitino

“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’,” according to a case study on C40 Cities. “The plan also emphasized Philadelphia’s commitment to planning its stormwater and water quality initiatives at the watershed level, focusing on source-level runoff reductions.”

A focus of the plan will be the city’s stormwater regulations and ordinances, which encourage new approaches that would improve water quality in receiving streams and improve groundwater recharge. The efforts stem from a 2012 federal/city agreement between U.S. EPA administrator Lisa P. Jakson and then-mayor Michael Nutter to ensure the success of Green City, Clean Waters and to highlight it as a model for other cities around the world.

“Green City, Clean Waters represents a major shift in the way we think about and deal with stormwater in Philadelphia,” per Philly Watersheds. “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 … 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.”

As our communities increasingly look to improve water quality through ambitious programs like Green City, Clean Waters, there is reason for optimism that the worst of environmental neglect is behind us. Only time will tell if the efforts will find sustainable success.