Investing in Green Stormwater Infrastructure

March 05, 2010

Late last year, the Philadelphia Water Department submitted a 3,300 page report to the EPA detailing exactly how it expected to bring Philadelphia into compliance with national Clean Water standards.

This would be no mean feat: Philadelphia was built, for the most part, with combined storm water & sewer drains, and a fair portion of the city's 135 square miles is paved or built-on.  To stop sludge from rolling into our rivers everytime it rains, we have to stop the rain from ripping through our streets and into the sewers.

The Water Department's plan is to kill this monstrous problem with a thousand tiny cuts ($1.6 billion-worth of them), one green roof and sidewalk rain garden at a time. But more than half the land the Water Department plans to convert is private -- owned by businsses and residents that are going to need the incentive and tools to participate. The Sustainable Business Network's "Green Economy Task Force" believe that the area's small businesses can be the ones to get this work done. They will, however, need support:  from creative financiers, to jobs training, to close participation by their partners in government.

Their report, Gray to Green, suggests where to start with all of this.  Author Sarah Francis joined the Fels Institute for a quick conversation about her research and findings.  Click here to listen to the interview. 

The report will be released Wednesday, March 10 at a 3pm launch hosted by United Way: 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.   RSVP to Kate Houstoun, Director of Green Economy Initiatives for the Sustainable Business Network, at

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