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Stormwater Regulation Updates

Effective July 1, 2015, Philadelphia Water updated its Stormwater Regulations for development projects to meet requirements of the Clean Water Act. The changes will improve the health of Philadelphia’s rivers, minimize local flooding, and encourage the use of green infrastructure throughout the city.

View the new Stormwater Plan Review Website at

For details about the changes, download our annotated Information Session presentation.

Summary of Changes

Which regulations apply to your project?

Projects that submitted a complete Existing Resources and Site Analysis (ERSA) application prior to July 1, 2015 will need to meet the previous Regulations (found in Guidance Manual v. 2.1). Projects that submit ERSA applications on July 1 or later will be required to meet the updated Regulations (found in Guidance Manual v 3.0).

Water Quality Improvements

  1. Manage more water
    Each development project will hold more water on site.
  2. Slow water entering sewers
    The rate of stormwater entering the sewer system will be slower.
  3. Clean water entering sewers
    Each site will filter the dirtiest stormwater running off the site.

Business Friendly Improvements

  1. Faster project approvals
    A new expedited, 5-day review for surface green stormwater infrastructure.
  2. Clear application resources
    Simplified ERSA application and worksheets to improve submissions.
  3. Accessible information
    Online, user-friendly Guidance Manual and new Plan Review Website.

For detailed information, view our Information Session Presentation.


Stormwater Regulations Outreach
As part of the two year process to update the Stormwater Regulations and Plan Review process, Philadelphia Water worked extensively with the Development Community to ensure people were informed about the changes. Below is a summary of our outreach efforts.

Development Services Committee (DSC)
Since 2012, Philadelphia Water has met regularly with the DSC, a special group of property owners, engineers and developers convened by our organization to provide input on the Stormwater Plan Review program and discuss potential changes that impact development in the City, to ensure the program remains business friendly.

Presentations to the Development Services Committee:
2012 Meeting Summaries
4/25/13 -  DSC 2013 Kickoff - Upcoming Regulatory Changes
6/27/13 - Record Drawings and Banking & Trading
9/12/13 -  Act 167 Plans and Operation & Maintenance Agreements
12/5/13 -  Analysis of Reduced Square Foot Threshold
3/27/14 -  Green City, Clean Waters Summary
7/31/14 - Summer Newsletter
11/21/14 - July 2015 Changes: Technical Requirements, Process, Outreach 
4/13/14 - July 2015 Changes: Technical Updates & New Guidance Manual Outline

Guidance Manual Interviews
Summer 2014- Philadelphia Water sought feedback about the Stormwater Management Guidance Manual by conducting telephone interviews with frequent users of the manual. Summary of Guidance Manual Feedback

Focus Groups: Procedural and Technical Changes
1/7/2015 and 2/12/2015- We held two focus groups with over 50 members of the development community. Summary of the Focus Groups

Focus Groups: Guidance Manual, Plan Review Website & ERSA Application
5/7/2015 and 5/8/2015- We held two focus groups with over 40 members of the development community. Here is a summary of the focus groups and the focus group presentation.

AWRA & BIA Presentations

5/13/15 - Philadelphia Water staff presented about the July 1 Stormwater Regulation changes to the American Water Resources Association's Philadelphia Metropolitan Area Section (AWRA) and the Building Industry Association(BIA). Over 90 people attended the two presentations. At the BIA presentation, several engineering firms presented case studies about how projects built before July 2015 would change with the new regulations. Download the BIA presentation here.

Provide us Your Feedback

Philadelphia Water wants to hear from you! We understand that more people will have comments on the changes once they start designing projects with the new Stormwater Management Guidance Manual (v 3.0). To record your comments, please use the form at the bottom of our Guidance Manual homepage.


Join our Mailing List

Sign up here to receive updates about the Stormwater Plan Review program and stormwater management on private property throughout Philadelphia.

Stormwater Regulations Fact Sheets

July 2015 Updates: Frequently Asked Questions

Summary of Guidance Manual Changes

Using Media Filters

Expedited Review Options


1/13/15- Email summarizing regulatory changes sent to over 2,400 individuals who have previously submitted projects to Stormwater Plan Review. This encompasses much of the engineering and development community in Philadelphia.

4/20/2015 - Reminder email summarizing regulatory changes and providing more details sent to over 2,400 individuals who have previously submitted project to Stormwater Plan Review.

6/29/15 - Final email sent to over 2,400 individuals announcing the change in the Stormwater Regulations and unveiling the new Stormwater Plan Review website with on-line Guidance Manual.

Information Sessions
We hosted five information sessions in June and July to provide a detailed review of the regulation changes and Stormwater Plan Review process improvements. Download the presentation with the speakers' notes here.


PWD Plan Review: Website for PWD’s Plan Review Unit which administers the Water Department’s Stormwater Management Development Regulations.

Stormwater Information: General information about stormwater management in Philadelphia, and resources PWD offers to property owners and communities to reduce stormwater runoff.

Green City, Clean Waters Information: Website and official reports for Philadelphia’s 25 year plan to reduce sewage overflows in our rivers largely through the implementation of green infrastructure. This plan is required by State and Federal environmental laws and is one of the reasons for the changes to the stormwater regulations.


Watershed Management Plans: Philadelphia is required to write and implement watershed-based stormwater management plans with other partners in our Watersheds. Successful implementation of these plans is one reason for the changes to the stormwater regulations.

Stormwater Pioneers: PWD’s recognition program for stormwater management on private property that demonstrates excellence in design and a true dedication to reducing stormwater runoff.

The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value
Natural Resources Defense Council report on the value of green infrastructure on private property.

Stormwater Retrofit Manual: Philadelphia Water released a new Stormwater Retrofit Manual in June 2015 to guide non-residential property owners through the process of improving stormwater management on their sites. We also released the Credits Explorer, a groundbreaking new app that allows anyone to virtually add GSI tools to non-residential properties and instantly see potential savings.