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

About

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
Two people in face masks stand outdoors, having a conversation. The tops of plants are visible in the foreground and two white vehicles are partially visible behind them, one showing the PWD logo on the side, with a brick wall in the background. One of the people has dark skin and close-cropped black hair, is wearing a navy blue PWD polo shirt and jeans, and holds a tablet with the screen darkened in one hand. The other has light skin and short salt and pepper hair, and is wearing a teal button-down shirt, dark cargo pants, a yellow safety vest, and a blue PWD baseball cap.
4: Jobs
Three children in t-shirts and face masks gather around the Watershed Alliance table to color pins proclaiming their love for their creek at the Green City, Clean Waters 10 Year Celebration, as an adult operates the button-making machine. Other guests and news crews are visible in the background.
5: Celebration
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 ▸

Chapter 4: Jobs

a sketch of a safety vest, hard hat, T-square, and travel coffee cup, drawn in blue, except for the safety vest which is drawn with green lines, and the hard hat is filled in with yellow

From at-risk youth to P.h.D recipients, green stormwater infrastructure has sparked a spectrum of careers for individuals around Philadelphia.

Read more about this topic on our blog ▸

Two people in face masks stand outdoors, having a conversation. The tops of plants are visible in the foreground and two white vehicles are partially visible behind them, one showing the PWD logo on the side, with a brick wall in the background. One of the people has dark skin and close-cropped black hair, is wearing a navy blue PWD polo shirt and jeans, and holds a tablet with the screen darkened in one hand. The other has light skin and short salt and pepper hair, and is wearing a teal button-down shirt, dark cargo pants, a yellow safety vest, and a blue PWD baseball cap.

Chapter 5: Celebration

a sketch in which a yellow safety cone becomes a party horn, producing a confetti blast of purple coneflowers, green leaves, water droplets, and abstract swirls

More than 200 people celebrated the 10th anniversary of Green City, Clean Waters on the 1400 block of American Street — the site of a significant GSI project.

Read more about this topic on our blog ▸

Three children in t-shirts and face masks gather around the Watershed Alliance table to color pins proclaiming their love for their creek at the Green City, Clean Waters 10 Year Celebration, as an adult operates the button-making machine. Other guests and news crews are visible in the background.

Coming soon: Chapter 6