Washington, DC, Jan. 23, 2014 -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced grants totalling nearly $5 million for five universities as part of the organization's safe and sustainable water resources research program. The endeavor strives to evaluate innovative green infrastructure practices in urban areas, with the city of Philadelphia, Pa., used as the pilot area.
These grants stem from a cooperative partnership between EPA and Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters program that represents a broad, long-term investment in implementing green infrastructure stormwater management practices. The schools involved include Villanova University, Villanova, Pa.; Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.; Temple University, Ambler, Pa.; the University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.; and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.
"This partnership provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the early benefits, long-term performance, and economic success of green infrastructure practices in urban communities," said U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. "Through this research, we will gain valuable knowledge that can be applied across the United States to create a safer and more sustainable water supply."
Philadelphia is a national leader among cities around the country in using green infrastructure to address problems from combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Systems that combine sewage and stormwater pipes normally feed into water treatment facilities where polluted wastewater is treated. During heavy rainstorms, the large amount of water running off pavement and roofs in cities can cause these systems to overflow. When a system overflows, the untreated wastewater flows directly into waterways.
"EPA's support has been key as we implement Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters plan," noted Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "This forward thinking plan will not only result in better water quality for the city, but it will also provide a multitude of benefits for Philadelphians like cleaner air, revitalized green spaces, and even new economic opportunity. EPA's commitment to making Green City, Clean Waters a model for the nation is confirmed by the creation of this grant program."
Green infrastructure is a cost-effective and innovative approach to reduce runoff from overflowing combined sewer systems in urban areas. The goal of green infrastructure is to retain or redirect water into the ground where plants and soil will naturally filter the water -- avoiding CSOs and reducing violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Green infrastructure investments also make our communities cleaner, healthier and more attractive places to live and work.