EPA chief likes what she sees in Philly

    The head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency Thursday called for more cities to develop green infrastructure similar to Philadelphia’s.

    Lisa Jackson applauded the city’s efforts to prevent stormwater run-off into nearby rivers with gardens, stormwater tree trenches, porous pavement and other green methods.

    “In my role as administrator of EPA, I want to bring those kinds of investments, those kinds of win-wins, to communities across our nation,” Jackson said. “We want to build on the successes of cities like Philly.”

    Jackson toured the new LEED-platinum Kensington High School for Creative and Performing Arts with Mayor Michael Nutter and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz. The school and the Shissler Recreation Center, across the street, are part of the “Big Green Block,” an environmental and community development project that include a geothermal well field and infiltration basin.

    Jackson said more cities should stop regarding stormwater like wastewater–to be collected, stored in tanks and treated. Instead, they should start creating urban environments with green infrastructure where water can be absorbed and filtered naturally.

    Schwartz said she is glad an early push in the city’s green infrastructure campaign is taking place at a school.

    “If we can encourage children, young people, to see the way it’s done, then maybe in a decade or two they will say, ‘Well why doesn’t everybody do it?’ ” Schwartz said.

    The school and recreational center are part of a 20-year city plan to drastically reduce  stormwater run-off using green initiatives.

    The city said it hopes to get final approval for the plan from the EPA within the next few weeks. Submitted in the fall of 2009, it is the only plan in the country to rely so heavily on green methods to reduce run-off.

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