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PROJECT PROFILE: Prioritizing Green Stormwater Infrastructure Projects
Equitable Distribution of Green Stormwater Infrastructure Projects in Philadelphia

This project was a subaward of Temple University's EPA STAR grant. The project focused on developing a strategy based on social factors to guide the site selection for green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects in the high priority areas—underserved communities with high capacity—identified by Mandarano and Meenar (2017) in their previous analysis. The team addressed the dual concerns of the inequitable benefits of GSI distribution and suitable site placement of GSI using a model to evaluate and integrate social variables to support decision making regarding GSI implementation. Results of this study indicated locations both suitable and optimal for the implementation of four types of GSI features: tree trenches, pervious pavement, rain gardens, and green roofs. This study incorporated the opinions of experts to prioritize and delimit distances of influence for GSI siting, which were validated and further contextualized using virtual field observations, with potentially transferrable insights for other urbanized areas that seek to control stormwater impacts on aging infrastructure.  

This study contributes to strategies to bring nature-based solutions to environmental justice communities through a two-tiered method to identified locations for GSI projects with the potential to deliver triple bottom line benefits. Building on previous work that developed a strategy to prioritize Census tracts for equitable distribution of GSI in Philadelphia, this study employed a suitability model with proximity criteria and weights based on expert opinion.  Together, these methods identified block-level suitable locations with community capacity bolstered by transit stops, Neighborhood Advisory Committees, schools, and recreation centers.

Project Team

  • Rowan University - Mahbubur Meenar, PhD (PI for Rowan) | Zachary Christman, PhD (GIS program director)

  • Temple UniversityLynn Mandarano , PhD (Co-PI, EPA STAR grant awarded to Temple University) 

  • Consultants - Susan Harris (Stormwater management specialist) | Kyle Hearing (GIS modeler) 


This project is funded by U.S. EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program, through a subaward from Temple University (Laura Toran - Lead PI), 2017-2018.

Any questions? Please send an email.

Project Area

The City of Philadelphia's combined sewer system (CSS) area.


Source: Philadelphia Water Department

Project Tasks & Results
Prioritization and evaluation of suitable GSI implementation sites was conducted in four stages:

(1) prior identification of high priority zones to achieve more equitable distribution based on community context and capacity, developed as part of previous research;

(2) restriction of potential implementation sites based on constraints of the built and physical environment;

(3) prioritization of potential implementation sites based on proximity to social criteria; and

(4) virtual and in situ site evaluation for site feasibility and implementation considerations.


The distribution of potential GSI implementation sites by type of feature, across the City of Philadelphia

rain garden 1.jpg

Ranked prioritization of potential GSI implementation sites by type of feature, across the City of Philadelphia

Tree planting


Christman, Z., Meenar, M., Mandarano, L., & Hearing, K. (2018). Prioritizing suitable locations for green stormwater infrastructure based on social factors in Philadelphia. Land, 7(4), 145.


Mandarano, L. & Meenar, M. (2017). Equitable distribution of green stormwater infrastructure: a capacity-based framework for implementation in disadvantaged communitiesLocal Environment, 22(11), 1338-1357.

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