economy

Economic Benefits of Philadelphia Water’s Green Approach = Icing on the Cake

This rain garden is making our rivers cleaner while adding value to a South Philly business and block. Credit: Philadelphia Diner.
This rain garden is making our rivers cleaner while adding value to a South Philly business and block. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Here at Philadelphia Water, every piece of our expansive, 3,000 mile stormwater system works towards toward one goal: effectively managing the water in our city that comes from storms, whether they’re summertime cloudbursts or January blizzards.

Managing stormwater is a critical and necessary task for any city. In Philadelphia, we address stormwater both to protect our neighborhoods from flooding and to protect our drinking water sources, the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, from pollution.

We don’t get to choose whether or not we deal with stormwater. But, with our innovative 25-year, multi-billion dolar Green City, Clean Waters program, we’re finding new ways of managing that water that can have additional benefits for neighborhoods—and maybe even Philadelphia’s economy too.

DC Reminds Us: The 'Why' Behind Green City, Clean Waters

The Philadelphia skyline frames a stormwater-fighting green roof on the Free Library of Philadelphia. Our city is leading the way on green infrastructure. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
The Philadelphia skyline frames a stormwater-fighting green roof on the Free Library of Philadelphia. Our city is leading the way on green infrastructure. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

We couldn't help but notice all the buzz down in Washington this week as they made the case for green to residents and unveiled revised stormwater plans relying heavily on green infrastructure. We congratulate DC Water on a big step in the right the right direction! Their debut also reminded us of our Green City, Clean Waters rollout way back in 2011, and got us thinking about the "why" behind green infrastructure.

So, why Green City, Clean Waters?

After almost five years of putting green infrastructure into neighborhoods, the answer to that question is clearer than ever. In a nod to the DC Water plan, here are four reasons Green City, Clean Waters is better than just sticking with the old way of doing water infrastructure:

Now. Unlike a massive underground tunnel system that would tear up neighborhoods for years, our green infrastructure is already providing water quality benefits. Green City, Clean Waters improvements allow Philadelphia to enjoy better water quality and environmental and social benefits right now. 

Better. In place since 2011, Green City, Clean Waters is creating environmental, social, and economic benefits that our neighborhoods would otherwise miss out on. Green infrastructure projects are increasing property values, beautifying neighborhoods, fighting extreme summer heat, creating natural habitats, enhancing public space and schools and even making neighborhoods safer.

Fairer. While other cities scramble for funds and end up saddling ratepayers with the burden of financing massive and outdated gray infrastructure projects, our 25-year Green City, Clean Waters plan is a cost-saving program that lets Philadelphia Water minimize rate increases and keep water affordable for all.   

Jobs. Green City, Clean Waters is fueling a green jobs economy in Philadelphia, creating high-value new jobs for residents and attracting smart workers and firms to our city. An ambitious and forward-thinking green infrastructure plan needs an ambitious and forward-thinking workforce to succeed, and we’re making that happen here right now.

Good Economy Challenge to Candidates Features Green City, Clean Waters


The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) has stepped into the fray of this year’s city elections to offer up the “Good Economy Challenge” to all of the candidates for mayor and City Council. Highlighting the importance of a sustainable economy, they focus on five policy priorities: small business, procure local, solar homes, social enterprise and... Green City, Clean Waters! 

In a recent newsletter SBN wrote “Green City, Clean Waters is bringing many economic, environmental, and social benefits to the city, and is positioning Philadelphia as a national leader in urban stormwater management. Our next Mayor/Council Members should drive Green City, Clean Waters forward in a unified way, so that the program can continue to positively influence Philadelphia’s competitiveness, local and regional economy, environment, and quality of life.” (We're blushing over here!) And in their policy paper, SBN outlines three specific recommendations asking candidates to pledge their commitment to Green City, Clean Waters, to improve coordination across city departments to better support the program and to continue making Philadelphia a green infrastructure industry and innovation hub for the nation. You can check all of their recommendations here

Perhaps most importantly, SBN is hosting the Good Economy Candidates Forum, giving you a chance to hear directly from mayoral candidates on Saturday, April 25, 6:30-9pm. The forum takes place at Temple’s Fox School of Business, Alter Hall Auditorium, 1801 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, PA. You can register for the forum using this link

And they didn’t just stop at issuing the challenge and organizing a forum! To keep up the social pressure, SBN has provided all kinds of easy-to-use tools for people to spread the message of this challenge. They’ve provided suggested Twitter and Facebook language (we’re partial to this one) so YOU can be part of the effort to put these policies in front of the mayoral and council candidates—scroll to the bottom of this page here for more examples. 

We appreciate that SBN has been such a strong advocate for Green City, Clean Waters and included it in this challenge. If you agree that Green City, Clean Waters, and sustainable, local business is an important topic for our new leaders, then make sure you attend the Forum, spread the word and get involved!

The Value of Water

Value of Water Coalition logo

Philadelphia Water Department is proud to be a founding member of The Value of Water Coalition, an alliance of public and private water agencies, business and community leaders, and national organizations united in communicating the importance of water to the economic, environmental, and social well-being of America. 

The Value of Water Coalition draws attention to our nation’s aging and underfunded water infrastructure, and educates on the fundamental importance of water. PWD plays a crucial role in the Coalition’s work with Commissioner Howard Neukrug serving on the Steering Committee and contributing content to the Coalition's website

The Coalition is growing and redoubling its efforts in 2015 as water-related issues are a rising concern for the nation. Issues like water main breaks in the Northeast during the cold winter months, which we recently discussed on this blog, and record drought affecting the West Coast

Despite the essential role that water plays in driving critical sectors of the economy and contributing to the high quality of life we enjoy in America, water is often overlooked in the national discussion of infrastructure investment, especially since water infrastructure is largely invisible. Few people (at least those who don’t regularly read this blog!) realize what it takes to treat and deliver drinking water every day or how wastewater is cleaned so that it can be safely reused or returned to the environment. The Value of Water is seeking to get that conversation going.

To learn more about The Value of Water’s work, visit: thevalueofwater.org and follow them on Twitter @TheValueofWater.

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