Philadelphia Embarks on an Unprecedented Green Stormwater Control Project

by Matt Ball on December 29, 2010

Philadelphia is moving forward with a 20-year, $1.6 billion stormwater control plan that incorporates many green aspects. Included are plans to convert impervious surfaces into absorptive spaces that use soil and vegetation to collect and filter runoff, including green roofs, water gardens, and the restoration of streams flowing through the city their natural ecology.

The need to deal with sewer overflow events is an issue that many large cities in the United States are dealing with, with increasing pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators. The city estimates that the green approach, as opposed to building large-scale underground storage facilities, will yield an additional dollar in benefits to the city.

Read more in this ENR story.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim McCloskey February 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm

The meeting is at 10 am. 2/24/11
Robert Elgart & Son
1011 W. Butler Street
Philadelphia, PA 19140
The Unified Business Owners Association of Philadelphia was formed in response to the Storm Water Tax. We are 125 strong and counting. We have businesses joining us daily. Some members are David Wolf Enterprises, Tasty Baking Co., Allen Brothers, Maglio Sausage, Thackery Crane, The Auto Dealers Association and many more!

Basically, Small business in Philadelphia has received 400+% increases on their water bills due to storm water runoff. Businesses went from $200.00 water bills to currently $1500.00 per month, escalating to $5000.00 + per month in 2013. Most of us have purchased properties in the most depressed areas in the City. We have employed locals, we have taken abandoned, burned out buildings and revitalized them into viable businesses. Some of our members have charitable organizations on our properties to give back to the neighborhoods. And what do we get for our commitment to the City of Philadelphia….TAXED OUT>

We are told that the program for stormwater is revenue neutral, but the fact of the matter is the high rises in Center City have enormous water bills due to the size of the meters they require to get the water to the top floors and for fire suppression. The meter size (or pipe) and cost isn’t justified by the amount of water used. We understand that they have been unfairly charged, but by the water department reducing their bills and putting the burden on small business is outrageous. We, the “1000 Losers” as we are called by the PWD are enraged over these costs. It is causing some businesses to consider moving from Philadelphia, others to close their doors, some to laying off people to cover these enormous costs.

The PWD has sent engineers to our facilities to give us options to mitigate some of our costs on the storm water tax, Yes we feel it is a tax, but the costs of mitigation are $200,000 and up to save 30%, our mitigation costs are $500,000.00 to save 85%. It would take 30 years to recoup that. It’s unrealistic to put that kind of burden on businesses struggling to survive in this economy.

We did some research and Philadelphia is the only large City to put forth a completely green program to the EPA. Philadelphia is the only large city with the percentages 4 x the amount of others charging for stormwater.

Real Estate agents that are with our group have experienced companies walking away from Philadelphia. They have been told by clients looking to expand to look outside the City. Real Estate values have been de-valued due to this tax, yet our real estate taxes have not been reduced.

We need some relief. We need to revise the PWD Storm water tax. We need to keep Philadelphia business friendly.

Thank you and I hope to see you at the meeting.

Kim McCloskey
Recording Secretary of the Unified Business Owners Association of Philadelphia

Stormwater Control April 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm

That’s good news – hopefully none of the budget deficits will keep from pushing this project through!
-Jack

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