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Policy and Regulations

Stormwater regulations reduce the City’s runoff by more than 900 million gallons per year.


An essential component of the Office of Watershed's overall regulatory strategy is its ability to leverage existing mandates and obtain buy-in with the regulating agencies for new initiatives. In order to effectively act as a liaison with federal, state, regional, and local regulating agencies, extensive knowledge of the pertinent laws and regulations - such as the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, among others - is imperative, as they impact the development of a comprehensive watershed management plan for each of our watersheds.


We recognize that sustainable improvements to water quality cannot be addressed solely within the confines of the City’s jurisdictional boundaries. Flow, velocity, pollutants, and aquatic life impairments, among many other issues, also exist upstream.

Regulations and policies at the state and federal levels impact water quality and supply; therefore, the Philadelphia Water Department is striving to strengthen the alliance with Pennsylvania's state legislature. In an effort to contribute to defining future regulations and decisions, the PWD provides scientifically supported testimonies to help ensure that pertinent water quality issues are being addressed. In working with legislators and state and federal regulators who make and implement policy, PWD strives to be an example of a responsible and progressive public utility.


Stormwater Regulations

The City of Philadelphia’s stormwater regulations strive to employ new approaches to stormwater management that include controls to improve the quality of stormwater prior to discharge, controls to reduce the erosive effects of stormwater, and measures to increase groundwater recharge within the areas of Water Quality, Channel Protection, Flood Control and Non-structural Site Design. The stormwater regulations ensure that Philadelphia has a progressive and effective stormwater program that meets the state and federal requirements while also coordinating with the changing regulations occurring in upstream municipalities.

Stormwater Parcel-based Billing

As more stringent federal regulations have escalated stormwater management costs, cities and municipalities across the country are instituting utility fees. Rather than charging properties based on their water meter(s), the Philadelphia Water Department announced its plan in 2009 to phase in a stormwater utility fee over the next four years, charging non-residential properties based on the ratio of impervious surface area to gross property area. Properties with a higher ratio will be charged more, while green practices - such as porous pavement and green roofs - will be credited. This equitable, incentive-based approach will charge customers responsible for generating runoff accordingly while also raising awareness of local environmental impacts and the importance of urban stormwater management.

More information can be found at PWD's Official Site.