Philadelphia Proposes Major "Green" Storm Water Plan

Sept. 29, 2009
U.S. EPA representative: "This is the most significant use of green infrastructure I've seen in the country"

The city of Philadelphia has announced plans to invest $1.6 billion in managing and treating storm water with "green" solutions, namely rain gardens, green roofs, tree plantings, rain harvesting barrels and porous pavers.

"This is the most significant use of green infrastructure I've seen in the country, the largest scale I've seen," Jon Capacasa, regional director of water protection for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "We commend Philadelphia for breaking the ice."

The plan--totaling 3,369 printed pages--is theoretically workable, according to Natural Resources Defense Council water expert Nancy Stoner. "It's the scaling up that's new," she said to the newspaper. "That's what's really exciting."

City officials have been working on the plan for about 12 years. They ruled out separating the city's combined storm water and sanitary sewer lines early on; the option was too expensive. Major sewage plant expansions and constructing massive underground tunnels, the next options considered, were deemed inefficient and costly.

The newly proposed green infrastructure proposal would raise rates a bit, but it would also attract grants and private investment. City officials estimate that this plan would reduce overflows by 80%, but the EPA has expressed that it wants Philadelphia to demonstrate an 85% reduction.

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Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Image courtesy Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).
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