Green City, Clean Waters
A Decade in the Community

Photo: The Nature Conservancy / Photographer Steve Weinik

10 years of Green City, Clean Waters

Philadelphia is celebrating a major milestone in its ongoing mission to reduce water pollution.

2021 marks a decade in the Community!

To honor this 10-year anniversary, we’re recognizing local communities who helped make this achievement possible.

Green City, Clean Waters has reached spectacular feats, such as staying on track to annually reduce more than 2 billion gallons of pollution in the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers — our drinking water sources. But, our most gratifying work has been engaging more than 400,000 people — from block captains to business owners — who comprise the fabric of Philadelphia.

line drawing of two Philly row homes, with a downspout planter and tree in front to help manage stormwater


Established in 2011, Green City, Clean Waters is Philadelphia’s 25-year plan to restore local waterways through the implementation of green stormwater infrastructure and investments in traditional infrastructure, such as treatment plants.

Though it was created to help the city meet state and federal water quality standards, the initiative was designed to educate, engage, and inspire Philadelphians around sustainability.

2: Residents
3: Business
three people wearing hard hats and high-visibility yellow tops that say PWD on the back stand facing away from the camera, looking at a construcition site where the arm of a digger is visible in the background
4: Coming Soon
mural on the side of a building features a personification of earth as a woman with medium-dark skin rising out of a hill, her hair a stream of water and rain flowing through her fingers to form a river with otters and fish, surrounded by buildings, birds, and flowers.
5: Coming Soon
a group of young people pose on a small dock on the edge of the river, holding up signs proclaiming their love for the Schuylkill river, green stormwater infrastructure and Green City, Clean Waters, and their pride in being part of the program and creating a greener future for Philadelphia
6: Coming Soon

Chapter 1: Engagement

line drawing of a hand reaching out

We are most successful when we work with you — the communities of Philadelphia.

Read more about this topic on our blog ▸

a row of PWD employees, community members, and children hold a ribbon stretched out in front of a newly completed rain garden, with several helping to hold very large scissors, poised to cut it

A neighborhood-based approach

About 60 percent of Philadelphia is served by combined sewer systems, which collect both runoff from storms and wastewater from homes and buildings. When storms overwhelm these nearly 200-year-old systems, treatment plants can reach capacity and combined sewers may overflow, releasing sewage and stormwater into local rivers and creeks. Philadelphia is solving this problem with neighborhood-based green stormwater infrastructure and improvements to traditional infrastructure, such as treatment plants.

To inform and educate residents around these green projects, the Water Department broke down these areas into four districts so that each of these regions experiencing overflows has a dedicated community outreach specialist. Through regular community engagement, they strive to make relationships with residents while explaining how, why, where, and when new green tools will be installed in their community.

Learn more about PWD’s outreach efforts ▸

simplified map of Philly showing the 4 GSI Outreach Districts with photos of their dedicated outreach specialists - Dan in West Philly, Maura in North Philly, Hailey in the Northwest and Northeast, and Tiffany in South Philly and the Riverwards
The City’s combined sewer overflow areas are divided into four districts represented by the colorful shadings on this map. Each region has a dedicated outreach specialist who engages communities around the local implementation of green tools. 

Chapter 2: Residents

a rake and gardening gloves

Supporting neighbors who help reduce waterway pollution — even in their own back yards.

Read more about this topic on our blog ▸

Chapter 3: Business

stylized illustration of a small stack of cash, drawn in blue lines of varying thickness.

Beautifying commercial properties and reducing stormwater bills — all while helping to restore Philadelphia’s waterways.

Read more about this topic on our blog ▸

Coming soon: Chapter 4