PWD Green City Clean Waters Program: Latest Progress, Biggest Obstacles

PWD has made significant progress in reducing CSOs in the first 12 years of the Green City, Clean Waters program. As of the last required regulatory reporting period in 2021, PWD reduced the annual average CSO volume by 3.08 billion gallonsexceeding the required CSO volume reduction target of 2.044 billion gallons by more than 1 billion gallons. This includes nearly eliminating all overflows from one of the largest outfalls in Tacony Creek. This three-billion-gallon annual CSO volume reduction is close to about 40 percent of the total CSO volume reduction goal that we have set for ourselves.  

PWD is committed to implementing a multitude of stormwater projects, leading to incremental volume reductions for years to come. PWD has projects under construction that will reduce CSOs by another 600 million gallons annually in the next three years. In addition to the green stormwater infrastructure projects that are being implemented throughout the city, there are several larger projects that are anticipated to be completed that will have significant impacts on reducing CSOs, including modification to regulator chambers, interceptor expansion, and construction of a pretreatment building at the Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant that will allow more flows to be treated at that plant.  We received a $100 million, low-interest, federally backed PENNVEST loan to help finance this project and reduce impacts on our ratepayers over time.   

What we still need to do

PWD has 13 years remaining in the approved Consent Order Agreement (COA) and Administrative Order for Compliance on Consent that formalized the Green City, Clean Waters program, with nearly five billion gallons of additional CSO volume left to eliminate annually. At the completion of Green City, Clean Waters, we are targeting to reduce CSOs by approximately eight billion gallons in the typical year from the original 13 billion gallons. There are benchmark performance standards outlined in five-year intervals, with the next at Year 15 of the program in 2026. Throughout the implementation process, we will continue to develop and refine approaches to meet each COA Performance Standard while balancing PWD’s other significant water resource priorities at our drinking water treatment plants and throughout our water, stormwater, and wastewater conveyance systems.   

PWD is already committed to over $4.5 billion in capital program infrastructure investments through fiscal year 2029, with nearly $1 billion of that dedicated to CSO mitigation. Even if we were to receive the entire state-wide allocation Pennsylvania is expecting for sewer investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law over the next four years, it would still only be a fraction of the funding needed for the magnitude of improvements required to mitigate all combined sewer overflows stemming from our aging sewer system.  

By working with our regulatory partners at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) we have committed to a progressive stormwater management program that consists of incremental improvements over a 25-year period and keeps the impacts on our ratepayers at the forefront.   

When evaluating the city’s rivers and streams and water quality impacts, it is important to remember that we are downstream of approximately 10,000 square miles of vast watershed areas that flow through hundreds of communities, multiple states, thousands of non-point pollution sources—such as farms and parking lots—and hundreds of point sources, such as wastewater treatment plants and stormwater outfalls conveying stormwater and treated wastewater to local waterways. These potential pollution sources are all upstream of Philadelphia. Numerous City of Philadelphia departments are collectively responsible for the environmental welfare of our citizens, for example. Philadelphia Parks and Recreation manages the trails and waterfront access and PWD and other dischargers work to improve water quality, while the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Police Marine Units do their part improving health and safety associated with near-shore and in-stream activities.  

PWD’s entire post can be found here.

Related Posts

Share This Post:
Do you have a relevant news story or perspective to share with the WRA member community?