Green 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.

Since Green City, Clean Waters was adopted in June 2011, Philadelphia Water and private developers have added over 1,100 green stormwater tools to our landscape.

Why Green City, Clean Waters?

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 While other cities scramble for funds and end up saddling ratepayers with the burden of financing massive and outdated gray infrastructure projects, our 25-year plan is a cost-saving program that lets Philadelphia Water minimize rate increases and keep water affordable for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


Green Stormwater Tools: They're All Around You

America’s most ambitious green stormwater program is getting more visible thanks to a first-of-its-kind network of vibrant, information-packed signs that draw attention to green tools at 36 locations in 18 neighborhoods.

We want you to know about green infrastructure investments in your neighborhood, and we want you to know how these amazing tools work.

Check out the Philly Watersheds blog to learn more about how these unique local features are supporting Green City, Clean Waters and see if there are learning opportunities near you.



Key Concepts

To learn more about Green City, Clean Waters, we recommend you start with the Summary Report. To help you understand the terminology and issues behind Green City, Clean Waters (technically known as the CSO Long Term Control Plan Update), here are some key concepts that inform our planning and solutions:


Stormwater Management Tools

How do we keep stormwater from causing sewer overflows into our rivers and streams? PWD's green stormwater infrastructure tools evaporate some of the runoff into the ground, evaporate a portion of it into the air, and in some cases slowly release the water into the sewer system.
Stormwater Planter
Porous Pavement
Stormwater Wetland

more tools >>


Videos      The Big Green Map

Green City, Clean Waters

Green Homes
Columbus Square Park

Greener, Healthier Playgrounds
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CSO Long Term Control Plan Update Documents



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Philadelphia have partnered to advance green infrastructure for urban wet weather pollution control. This partnership assures EPA’s support of Philadelphia’s adoption of green infrastructure to improve both water quality and the sustainability of its neighborhoods. Read agreement >>

The U.S.-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability is an innovative public-private partnership for catalyzing investment in sustainable urban infrastructure. Rio de Janeiro and Philadelphia have partnered to identify opportunities for scaling up investment in urban sustainability. more >>