Philadelphia Water Department

Chapter 2

Submission, Review, and Approval Procedures

2.0 Introduction

Chapter 2, Submission, Review, and Approval Procedures, outlines the steps required to obtain the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) Stormwater Plan Review approvals, where PWD certifies that a project complies with, or is exempt from, the PWD Stormwater Regulations (Stormwater Regulations). Before using Chapter 2, the applicant must review Chapter 1 to learn the basics of the Stormwater Regulations and understand the applicability factors that determine if the Stormwater Regulations apply to the project and, if so, which specific requirement(s) apply.

Using the three Stormwater Regulation applicability factors described in Section 1.1 along with the guidance in this Chapter, the applicant can determine a project’s required submission and review process to obtain stormwater management approval or exemption.

2.0.1 Understanding PWD’s Stormwater Plan Review Process

As stated in Chapter 1, PWD reviews all projects in the City of Philadelphia that generate earth disturbance of 5,000 square feet or more. A project’s Review Path varies depending on the type of project, the project’s location, and the project’s earth disturbance area. Projects will fall under one of four major Review Paths:

  • Development Compliance
  • Development Exemption
  • Demolition
  • Stormwater Retrofit

These Review Paths each have one or more Review Phases, and each Review Phase consists of the following:

  1. A submission package from the applicant to PWD containing required information about the project
  2. A PWD review of the applicant’s submission package
  3. Issuance of approval by PWD for the applicant to proceed to the next Review Phase or final approval if in the terminal phase
    OR
    Issuance of review comments by PWD to the applicant that must be addressed through resubmission by the applicant to PWD

2.0.2 How to Use this Chapter

Chapter 2 consists of seven Sections, which are listed and described below. A first-time applicant is encouraged to read all Sections sequentially, while others should feel free to use only the Sections of Chapter 2 that are most appropriate for a given project.

  • Section 2.0 - Introduction: The applicant can use this Section to obtain general information on the PWD Stormwater Plan Review process, understand how to use Chapter 2, and to learn about about ways to contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review throughout the process.
  • Section 2.1 - Existing Resources and Site Analysis: The applicant can use this Section to understand the submission requirements for an Existing Resources and Site Analysis (ERSA) Application, which is the starting point for every applicant submitting to PWD Stormwater Plan Review. The applicant must use this Section first to determine which of four Review Paths is required for the project before proceeding to the following Sections of this Chapter.
  • Section 2.2 - Review Paths: Once a project’s Review Path has been determined, the applicant can use this Section to find out more about the project’s Review Path, including all Review Phases within the Review Path.
  • Section 2.3 - Review Phases: The applicant can use this Section to determine what materials need to be submitted to PWD at each Review Phase for each Review Path.
  • Section 2.4 - Expedited Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) Reviews: The applicant can use this Section to determine if, and how, their project can obtain approval more quickly.
  • Section 2.5 - PWD’S Development Review Process: The applicant can use this Section to understand how other PWD units and PWD permit requirements may interact with the project’s PWD Stormwater Plan Review approval.
  • Section 2.6 - PWD’S Role in Philadelphia's Development Process: The applicant can use this Section to understand how other City departments and Zoning and Building Permit requirements may interact with the project’s PWD Stormwater Plan Review approval.
  • Section 2.7 - PWD and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: The applicant can use this Section to understand how Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) requirements interact with the project’s PWD Stormwater Plan Review approval.

Having worked through Chapter 2 to gain an understanding of the applicable Review Path and submission requirements, the applicant may use Chapter 3 to develop a stormwater management strategy that meets the project’s stormwater management requirements.

If the applicant’s project is a Stormwater Retrofit, Chapter 2 can be used to understand the ERSA Application process for the project; however, the applicant is referred to the PWD Stormwater Retrofit Guidance Manual (2015 or latest version) for comprehensive guidance on Stormwater Retrofit requirements and stormwater credits.

2.0.3 Contacting PWD Stormwater Plan Review

Contact Information

At any step in the review process, PWD encourages the applicant to contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review staff for help. For further information, the applicant is invited to email pwd.planreview@phila.gov or call (215) 685-6387.

Electronic Submissions

After online submission of an ERSA Application (Section 2.1.1), which is the starting point for every applicant submitting to PWD Stormwater Plan Review, the applicant must subsequently submit all electronic files to: pwd.planreview@phila.gov.

All email correspondence must include the PWD-assigned project tracking number (Section 2.1.1) in the subject line. If the email includes an attachment that is part of a Review Phase, the applicant should identify the Review Phase, such as "Conceptual Review Phase Submission", in the subject line or body of the text.

Hard Copy Submissions

All hard copy submissions must include a letter of transmittal identifying the PWD project tracking number, type of submission package (PCSMP, PCSMP Field Change, Record Drawing, E&S, etc.) and the applicant's contact information.The applicants must submit all hard copy submission package documents, data CDs, fee payments, and other materials to:

Projects Control
Philadelphia Water Department

1101 Market Street, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107-2994

Walk-In Hours

The applicant may also speak with PWD Stormwater Plan Review staff in person by attending Walk-In Hours, which are held every Tuesday, except City holidays, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on the 5th Floor of 1101 Market Street, Philadelphia PA, 19107. Appointments are not necessary. However, if interested in meeting with a specific reviewer, the applicant is encouraged to contact the reviewer in advance of the Walk-In Hours. Applicants will be seen on a first-come basis.

Pre-Application Meetings

The applicant may request a meeting with PWD at any time to address more complex site constraints or innovative stormwater management approaches. For an applicant who wishes to meet prior to submitting an ERSA Application, an email request can be made to pwd.planreview@phila.gov using the subject line “Pre-Application Meeting.” As part of the request, applicants must include a completed Private Development Services Pre-Application Meeting Request Form along with a preliminary site plan.

If unprepared to discuss a particular project at this level of detail, the applicant is encouraged to attend Walk-In Hours instead. PWD Stormwater Plan Review will invite other PWD units as needed to the meeting. The applicant may extend the invitation to other City and State agencies if their presence is desired. All pre-application meetings will be held at PWD's office, located at 1101 Market Street. If the applicant would like a written record of the items discussed during the meeting, the applicant is encouraged to take minutes and send the document to PWD within one week for review and comment.

2.1 Existing Resources and Site Analysis

Every new regulated project, regardless of its Review Path, begins with the submission of the Existing Resources and Site Analysis (ERSA) Application to Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) Stormwater Plan Review. Section 2.1 describes the ERSA Application, lists all ERSA Application Submission Package components, and details the submission process. Furthermore, this section assists the applicant in determining their project’s applicable Review Path, which is a necessary step in the completion of an ERSA Application.

2.1.1 ERSA Application

The ERSA Application is the first submission for all projects that require PWD Stormwater Plan Review approval or exemption. The development of the ERSA Application requires the applicant to identify existing project site features, describe the proposed development site, identify all applicable PWD Stormwater Regulations (Stormwater Regulations), and determine the appropriate Review Path for the project. PWD Stormwater Plan Review uses the ERSA Application to define the existing conditions of the project site, to confirm the project’s applicability within, or exemption from, the Stormwater Regulations, and to confirm the project’s Review Path with the applicant. The applicant must note that design decisions that may occur after submission of the ERSA Application may impact a project’s applicability to, or exemption from, the Stormwater Regulations, as well as the project’s Review Path. If major changes are made to the project after the applicant submits an ERSA Application, the applicant must contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review to determine if a revised ERSA Application is needed before proceeding.

ERSA Application Submission Package Components

A complete ERSA Application Submission Package consists of the following components:

Figure 2.1-1: ERSA Application Submission Package Components Checklist

ERSA APPLICATION SUBMISSION PACKAGE
Submission Package Components Checklist
  ERSA Worksheet
  Site Photographs
  Existing Conditions Plan
  Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package*

* Refer to Section 2.3 for Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package Requirements by Review Path

ERSA Worksheet
  • The applicant must complete an online ERSA Worksheet on the PWD Stormwater Plan Review website. The online worksheet provides interactive guidance to assist the applicant in providing all required project, contact, and owner information. For reference, a static version of the ERSA Worksheet is included on the Stormwater Plan Review Resources page.
  • The online ERSA Worksheet guides the applicant through the process of determining the project’s Review Path. Detailed information on determining a project’s Review Path is included in Section 2.1.2.
  • If the applicant intends for the project to be considered for an Expedited PCSMP Review or a stormwater management based zoning height or density bonus, this intent is declared as part of the ERSA Worksheet. The applicant is referred to Section 2.4 for more information on Expedited PCSMP Reviews and Section 2.6 for zoning bonuses.
Site Photographs

A minimum of one color photograph from each accessible face of the parcel(s) looking into the site is required. The applicant is encouraged to submit additional photos as needed to best illustrate project site conditions to PWD Stormwater Plan Review.

Existing Conditions Plan

The Existing Conditions Plan contains information regarding the predevelopment state of the project site (i.e., site conditions at the time of ERSA Application). Proposed site and stormwater improvements are not depicted on the Existing Conditions Plan, as these are shown on the Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan. The specific requirements for Existing Conditions Plans are shown in Appendix E, Table E-2: Existing Conditions Plan Requirements. Existing Conditions Plans must also meet all PWD general plan sheet requirements listed in Appendix E, Table E-1: General Plan Sheet Requirements.

Redevelopment projects that propose modifications to an existing project area that was subject to Stormwater Regulations are advised to contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review as early as possible in the design process to ensure the redevelopment will not impede regulatory compliance of the existing project. Even if no modifications are proposed to an existing SMP, changes in cover type, such as converting area that was previously constructed as landscape to hardscape, can have significant impacts on the site’s regulatory compliance. Applicants who are unsure whether their project site was previously subject to Stormwater Regulations may contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review for guidance.

Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package

Requirements of a Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package differ based on a project’s Review Path. The applicant must first determine the project’s Review Path, using Section 2.1.2, and then is referred to Section 2.3 for Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package requirements.

Submission Process

The ERSA Application submission is initiated online through PWD’s Stormwater Plan Review website. The online form guides the applicant through the ERSA Application submission process and allows the applicant to upload all necessary digital files: site photos, Existing Conditions Plan, and other plans required as part of the Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package.

Once projects are initiated online, a project tracking number is assigned, which is used by the applicant and PWD to track the review process as it proceeds. The applicant must reference this project tracking number for all subsequent submissions.

Throughout the submission process, the applicant is invited to contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review for assistance.

2.1.2 Determining Project Review Path

The path to obtaining a PWD Stormwater Plan Review approval varies depending on project characteristics. Determining whether an approval is required, and, if so, which of the four Review Paths is applicable, represents a critical step for every project and must be completed by the applicant prior to submission of an ERSA Application.

The applicant must identify the following three project characteristics to determine the appropriate review and submission requirements. These characteristics, used along with Figure 2.1-2 below, allow the applicant to determine the Review Path for their project. The applicant must input these characteristics when filling out the online ERSA Worksheet as part of the ERSA Application.

  1. Development Type - Projects fall into one of four development types: New Development, Redevelopment, Demolition, or Stormwater Retrofit. The applicant is referred to Section 1.1.1 for the complete definition of each development type. A project falls into only one development type. If an applicant is uncertain which development type best defines a project, they can contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review for additional guidance.
  2. Watershed - Seven major watersheds exist in Philadelphia: Darby and Cobbs Creeks Watershed, Delaware Direct Watershed, Lower Schuylkill River Watershed, Pennypack Creek Watershed, Poquessing Creek Watershed, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed, and Wissahickon Creek Watershed. The applicant is referred to Section 1.1.2 for more information on watersheds and to Appendix D for Watershed Maps. The applicant can also determine their watershed online or contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review for verification.
  3. Earth Disturbance - PWD must review any project whose earth disturbance exceeds 5,000 square feet to ensure that an Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Plan has been prepared in accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection guidelines (Section 2.3). In addition, PWD must ensure that the limit of disturbance is correctly delineated and that the project is not part of a larger phased development that will trigger additional Stormwater Regulations.

    There are some earth disturbance activities that do not require post-construction stormwater management and/or should not be counted toward the regulatory threshold for triggering the Stormwater Regulations. The applicant is referred to Section 1.1.3 for more information on earth disturbance.

After answering these questions, the applicant can use Figure 2.1-2 to determine a project’s Review Path. Review Paths are color-coded throughout Chapter 2.

Figure 2.1-2: Project Review Path Determination Flow Chart

After determining a Review Path, the applicant can proceed to Section 2.2 and Section 2.3 to learn more about the requirements and Review Phases of their project’s Review Path. The applicant should review these Sections before final submission of their ERSA Application, as the ERSA Application submission will occur concurrently with the Conceptual Review Phase Submission.

If unable to determine the appropriate Review Path, the applicant should contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review.

2.2 Review Paths

Section 2.2 describes each of the four Review Paths to demonstrate a project’s compliance with, or exemption from, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) Stormwater Regulations (Stormwater Regulations), including the steps, or Review Phases, within each Review Path. Each Review Path has its own individual set of requirements and criteria for approvals.

Once a project’s Review Path is identified, the applicant must follow the steps in this Section that correspond with the color-coded Review Path. Because some of the steps between Review Paths are identical, there is some repetition in the descriptions below. The applicant need only refer to the set of steps corresponding to the project’s determined Review Path.

Each project will follow one of the four following Review Paths:

Development Compliance – Section 2.2.1
Development Exemption – Section 2.2.2
Demolition – Section 2.2.3
Stormwater Retrofit – Section 2.2.4

If the proposed limit of earth disturbance for the project changes at any point in the development processes, the applicant must refer back to Section 2.1.2 to confirm the project’s Review Path.

Projects may be subject to State or Federal permit requirements, or other PWD requirements aside from the Stormwater Regulations. It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine whether their project must comply with other PWD, City, State, or Federal permit requirements. The applicant is referred to Section 2.5, Section 2.6, and Section 2.7 for more information. If uncertain about how to proceed, the applicant is encouraged to contact Stormwater Plan Review at any point in the submission and review process.

2.2.1 Development Compliance Review Path

The majority of development projects reviewed by Stormwater Plan Review fall into the Development Compliance Review Path and are subject to Post-Construction Stormwater Management (PCSM) Requirements (Section 1.2.1). PCSM Requirements apply to all projects that propose 15,000 square feet or more of earth disturbance (5,000 square feet or more in the Darby and Cobbs Creek Watershed) as well as some projects that trigger PCSM Requirements under the Wissahickon Watershed Overlay (Section 1.1.2). This Review Path includes three Review Phases, as detailed in Figure 2.2-1.

Figure 2.2-1: Development Compliance Review Path Flow Chart

Projects in the Development Compliance Review Path must obtain both Conceptual and Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) approvals from Stormwater Plan Review. Section 2.3 provides detailed submission requirements for projects in this Review Path.

For the Development Compliance Review Path, PWD offers incentives to developers proposing the use of disconnected impervious cover (DIC) and green stormwater practices, such as bioinfiltration/bioretention basins and green roofs, by providing Expedited PCSMP Reviews. To determine if a project qualifies for one of PWD’s Expedited PCSMP Reviews, the applicant is referred to Section 2.4. The applicant must clearly state the intent to qualify for an Expedited PCSMP Review in the Conceptual Review Phase submission (Section 2.3.1).

If, during the course of construction, additional area is disturbed which changes the applicable requirements, the applicant must notify PWD and other appropriate agencies immediately. PWD often observes earth disturbances in the field that exceed initial estimates provided on plans. To avoid costly delays, change orders, and enforcement actions, PWD recommends that the applicant be conservative when estimating the disturbance area at each stage of the review process.

2.2.2 Development Exemption Review Path

The Development Exemption Review Path applies to most development projects with earth disturbances that are less than 15,000 square feet. Projects with earth disturbances of 5,000 square feet or more in the Darby and Cobbs Creeks Watershed as well as those projects that trigger PCSM Requirements under the Wissahickon Watershed Overlay should follow the Development Compliance Review Path (Section 2.2.1). The review and approval process for most projects in the Development Exemption Review Path takes place in a single Review Phase. Specifically, the applicant will need to prepare a Conceptual Review Phase submission where PWD can review the proposed limits of disturbance (LOD) and verify that an Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Plan has been developed for the project. At the conclusion of the Conceptual Review Phase, all projects in the Development Exemption Review Path will be issued a Conceptual Approval Letter from Stormwater Plan Review. The Conceptual Approval Letter can be used as a Zoning Permit prerequisite. For most projects, the applicant can also use the Conceptual Approval Letter to satisfy their Building Permit prerequisite requirements. Once the Development Exemption Review Path is complete, the applicant can proceed to construction upon receipt of their Building Permit.

For certain projects in the Development Exemption Review Path an E&S approval is required, resulting in an E&S Review Phase. This second phase applies to projects proposing more than 15,000 square feet of earth disturbance (5,000 square feet in the Darby and Cobbs Creeks Watershed) while qualifying for an exemption from PCSM Requirements (Section 1.2.1). These projects cannot begin construction until an E&S approval is obtained.

Figure 2.2-2: Development Exemption Review Path Flow Chart

If, during the course of construction, additional area is disturbed that changes the applicable requirements, the applicant must notify PWD and other appropriate agencies immediately. PWD often observes earth disturbances in the field that exceed initial estimates on plans. To avoid costly delays, change orders, and enforcement actions, PWD recommends that the applicant be conservative when estimating the disturbance area at each stage of the review process.

2.2.3 Demolition Review Path

Many development projects may have a demolition component; however, the Demolition Review Path applies only to projects that are limited to the razing or destruction, whether entirely or in significant part, of a building, structure, site, or object (including the removal of a building, structure, site, or object from its site or the removal of destruction of the façade or surface), when no redevelopment is planned. If redevelopment is planned, the applicant may choose to submit an Existing Resources and Site Analysis (ERSA) Application (Section 2.1) limited to the demolition phase of work, allowing demolition to begin prior to completion of the Development Compliance or Development Exemption Review Paths. Applicants who wish to proceed with this option are advised to contact Stormwater Plan Review prior to making this additional ERSA Application submission.    

In most cases, if the demolition activity will result in less than 15,000 square feet of earth disturbance (5,000 square feet in the Darby and Cobbs Creeks Watershed) the review and approval process takes place in a single Review Phase. Specifically, the applicant will need to prepare a Conceptual Review Phase submission where PWD can review the LOD and verify that an E&S Plan has been developed for the project. At the conclusion of this Conceptual Review Phase, PWD will issue a Conceptual Approval. If the earth disturbance will exceed 15,000 square feet (5,000 square feet in the Darby and Cobbs Creeks Watershed), the applicant will need to complete two Review Phases, the Conceptual Review Phase and the E&S Review Phase.

Figure 2.2-3: Demolition Review Path Flow Chart

If, during the course of demolition, additional area is disturbed that may change the project’s Review Path or trigger additional stormwater management requirements, the applicant must contact PWD immediately to determine whether the current Review Path is still valid. PWD often observes earth disturbances in the field that exceed initial estimates on plans. To avoid costly delays, change orders, and enforcement actions, PWD recommends that the applicant be conservative when estimating the disturbance area at each stage of the review process.

If the project requires a full Building Permit, the applicant must contact Stormwater Plan Review to determine if a different Review Path is more appropriate for the project.

2.2.4 Stormwater Retrofit Review Path

The Stormwater Retrofit Review Path is administered by PWD Stormwater Billing and Incentives (Section 2.5) to evaluate stormwater management designs proposed on private property for a purpose other than regulatory compliance (e.g. voluntary installations). An applicant who submits in the Stormwater Retrofit Review Path is typically looking to install stormwater management practices (SMPs) on their site to reduce their monthly stormwater bill, often with the assistance of PWD stormwater grants. For complete guidance on Stormwater Retrofit projects, the applicant is referred to PWD’s Stormwater Retrofit Guidance Manual (2015 or latest version).

If a project is for a purpose other than voluntary stormwater management, or if a project involves a development or demolition component, the applicant should contact PWD Stormwater Billing and Incentives to confirm that he or she is proceeding through the correct Review Path.

The applicant is encouraged to meet with PWD early in the Stormwater Retrofit decision-making process to help determine eligibility for financial assistance through its Stormwater Management Incentive Program (SMIP) and Greened Acre Retrofit Program (GARP) grant programs. For more information on PWD’s free concept design assistance program, the applicant is encouraged to contact PWD Stormwater Billing and Incentives.

2.3 Review Phases

Section 2.3 describes the Review Phases associated with the Development Compliance, Development Exemption, and Demolition Review Paths. For more information regarding the Stormwater Retrofit Review Path, the applicant is referred to the Stormwater Retrofit Guidance Manual. The applicant should use this Section after the applicable Review Path has been determined for their project (Section 2.1.2) and an understanding is achieved of which Review Phases and the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) Stormwater Plan Review approvals are required for the project’s Review Path (Section 2.2). The four possible Review Phases for a project include the Conceptual Review Phase, Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Review Phase, Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) Review Phase, and Record Drawing Review Phase.

Development Compliance Review Path (Section 2.3.1)

  • Conceptual Review Phase
  • PCSMP Review Phase
  • Record Drawing Review Phase

Development Exemption Review Path (Section 2.3.2)

  • Conceptual Review Phase
  • E&S Review Phase (If Applicable)

Demolition Review Path (Section 2.3.3)

  • Conceptual Review Phase
  • E&S Review Phase (If Applicable)

Figure 2.3-1 summarizes the relevant Review Phases for the different Review Paths. For each Review Phase, this Section describes Submission Package components, the submission and review process, and the project expiration policy.

Figure 2.3-1: Summary of Review Phases for Each Review Path

It is important for the applicant to note that while some Review Paths have similar Review Phases, specific Submission Package components, review processes, and approval documentation differ among Review Paths. These differences are described in detail within the following sections.

2.3.1 Development Compliance Review Path

Conceptual Review Phase

The Conceptual Review Phase is the first Review Phase of the Stormwater Plan Review process for the Development Compliance Review Path.  A project is initiated with the submission of the Existing Resources and Site Analysis (ERSA) Application to PWD, which includes a Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package.

Submission Package Components

The Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package for the Development Compliance Review Path contains a Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan and Approval Fee. Projects on public land (local, State, and federal) or projects sponsored by a government entity (unless PWD is the sole entity) must still pay review fees.

The process of developing a Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan will help the applicant develop a stormwater management strategy that minimizes impacts to existing critical features and responds to key site constraints and opportunities. PWD uses the Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan to gain a preliminary idea of what is proposed at the project site, to confirm the proposed project limits of disturbance (LOD), to assess the proposed stormwater management strategy, including evaluation of stormwater management practice (SMP) loading ratios and drainage areas (Chapter 3), and to verify the project’s applicability for an Expedited PCSMP Review (Section 2.4).

A complete Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package for the Development Compliance Review Path consists of the materials listed in Figure 2.3-2.

Figure 2.3-2: Development Compliance Review Path Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package Checklist

DEVELOPMENT COMPLIANCE REVIEW PATH
Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package Checklist
  Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan
  Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan Approval Fee
Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan
  • The Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan must meet all requirements listed in Appendix E, Table E-3: Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan Requirements as well as general plan sheet requirements listed in Appendix E, Table E-1.
  • In preparing the proposed stormwater management strategy for the project site, the applicant must use the stormwater management design process detailed in Chapter 3.
  • Construction details should not be submitted with the Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan.
  • A sample Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan is available here for the applicant's reference.
Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan Approval Fee
  • For up-to-date fee information, the applicant is referred to PWD Regulations Attachment B: Rates and Charges.
  • PWD accepts payment in the form of a cashier’s check, business check, or money order made payable to “City of Philadelphia.” Personal checks are not accepted.
  • Because fees must be mailed or hand delivered, PWD will begin the Conceptual Review prior to receipt of the fee, but cannot issue the Conceptual Approval Letter until the fee is received.
  • The PWD project tracking number must be listed on the check or included in an accompanying transmittal letter.
Submission and Review Process
  • The applicant submits the Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package as a component of a complete ERSA Application Submission Package (Section 2.1.1) via the Stormwater Plan Review website.
  • PWD issues an email confirmation to the applicant that the submission has been received.
  • PWD reviews the ERSA Application Submission Package, including the Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package, within five calendar days.
    • PWD reviews the submitted plans and documentation by analyzing the proposed development and its stormwater management strategy. At a conceptual level, preliminary determinations are made regarding compliance with the Stormwater Regulations, as well as eligibility for an Expedited PCSMP Review. Examples of specific review items evaluated by PWD include loading ratios for SMPs and management of 100% of post-development directly connected impervious area (DCIA). The applicant is referred to Chapter 3 for stormwater management design guidance.
    • PWD performs an initial review of proposed water and sewer connections and possible conflicts with PWD infrastructure. However, this represents only a preliminary review, and the applicant will still need to obtain separate connection permits outside of this Conceptual Review Phase (Section 2.5).
  • If PWD has comments on the submission, comments will be issued to the applicant via email.
  • The applicant resubmits to PWD, via email, a revised Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package that addresses the comments. Depending on the number and complexity of comments, the applicant may choose to include a response letter addressing each review comment and outlining any major plan or design changes. This can be an iterative process, and PWD does not restrict the number of times an applicant can resubmit. At any time, the applicant or PWD may request a meeting to discuss review comments.
  • If PWD has no comments, or if the comments have been addressed sufficiently by the applicant, PWD issues an email confirming Conceptual approval of the project, including electronic copies of a Conceptual Approval Letter and a PWD-stamped Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan. These items will also be sent in hard copy form to the Primary Design Contact listed on the ERSA Application.
  • The applicant may use the signed copy of Conceptual Approval Letter and PWD-stamped Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan in filing for a Zoning Permit. Building Permits, however, cannot be obtained, nor can earth disturbance activities begin, until the Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) Review Phase is complete.

Figure 2.3-3: Development Compliance Review Path Conceptual Review Phase Flow Chart

Expiration Policy

For the Conceptual Review Phase, the applicant has one year to resubmit in response to PWD comments, but may also request one additional six-month extension. A Project Extension Request Form can be found at the Stormwater Plan Review website.

Once a Conceptual Approval Letter is issued, the applicant has one year to submit the PCSMP Review Phase Submission Package to begin the PCSMP Review Phase, but may also request one additional six-month extension. Beyond this extension, Conceptual approvals will only remain active if there is a valid Zoning Permit in place.

PCSMP Review Phase

The PCSMP Review Phase is the second Review Phase in the Stormwater Plan Review process for the Development Compliance Review Path.  A project is eligible to submit for the PCSMP Review Phase after receiving a Conceptual Approval Letter from PWD. 

The PCSMP Review Phase is PWD’s final review before construction. At the end of this Phase, PWD will issue a PCSMP Approval Letter. PCSMP approval is not a permit, but rather one of many prerequisite materials that must be presented to PWD Water Transport Records in order to receive PWD sign-off on a Building Permit (Section 2.5 and Section 2.6). For projects that do not require a Building Permit, PCSMP approval must be obtained before earth disturbance activities can begin.

The site layout and stormwater management design included with the PCSMP Review Phase Submission Package must be consistent with the design that was approved during the Conceptual Review Phase. If major changes are made to the project after PWD issues a Conceptual Approval Letter, the applicant must contact PWD to determine if a revised Conceptual Approval Letter is needed before proceeding to the PCSMP Review Phase. The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) or the City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) may reject Zoning Permit or variance applications if materials submitted to these agencies differ significantly from the approved Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan. Examples of major changes that would require a new Conceptual approval include, but are not limited to:

  • Changes to proposed LOD;
  • Changes in proposed impervious area (such as building footprint or location);
  • Changes in stormwater routing; and
  • Changes in the type, placement, sizing, and/or location of SMPs or changes to the stormwater management strategy.

If the stormwater management design changes during the PCSMP Review Phase, and the applicant would like to pursue an Expedited PCSMP Review, he or she must contact PWD before resubmitting to discuss specific design and submission requirements. The applicant is referred to Section 2.4 for more information on Expedited PCSMP Reviews.

Submission Package Components

A complete PCSMP Review Phase Submission Package for the Development Compliance Review Path consists of the materials listed in Figure 2.3-4. All hard copy submissions must include a letter of transmittal identifying the PWD project tracking number, type of submission package (PCSMP, PCSMP Field Change, etc.) and the applicant's contact information.

Figure 2.3-4: Development Compliance Review Path PCSMP Review Phase Submission Package Checklist

DEVELOPMENT COMPLIANCE REVIEW PATH
Post Construction Stormwater Management Plan Review Phase Submission Package Checklist
  Final Construction Drawings
  Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) Package
  Proof of Application for Applicable State and Federal Permits
  Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan Submittal Fee
  Transmittal Letter
Final Construction Drawings
  • All plans must be signed and sealed by the appropriate professional licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first sheet of the plan set must have an original signature (not an electronic, scanned, or stamped copy) and seal from a Professional Engineer licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The remaining plans may have a facsimile seal.
  • All plans must meet general plan sheet requirements listed in Appendix E, Table E-1.
  • The following items must be incorporated into the Final Construction Drawings:
    • Existing Conditions Plan that meets all requirements listed in Section 2.1.1,
    • Demolition Plan,
    • Site Plan,
    • Grading and utility information,
    • Landscaping information, and
    • Construction details.
Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan Package
  • Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan
    • The PCSMP is a set of engineering drawings depicting the post-development conditions and post-construction stormwater management design of a project. The PCSMP drawings and Final Construction Drawings do not necessarily have to be separate plans; they may be combined into a singular plan set.
    • The PCSMP must be signed and sealed by a Professional Engineer licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first sheet of the plan set must have an original signature (not an electronic, scanned, or stamped copy) and the remaining plans may have a facsimile seal.
    • Drawings must contain appropriate sequences of construction for each SMP (Chapter 4).
    • Grading and utility information, landscaping information, and SMP construction details, must be either incorporated into PCSMP drawings or provided as separate plan sheets.
  • E&S Plan
    • The E&S Plan displays the post-construction condition along with other site characteristics related to the earth disturbance activities and proposed E&S measures for a project site.
    • The E&S Plan must include a LOD line type which is drawn around all proposed site features, E&S controls, and other areas that may be disturbed over the course of construction for activities such as construction staging, re-grading, demolition, etc. The applicant is advised to be conservative when estimating the LOD to avoid proceeding along the wrong Review Path, which could lead to costly delays, change orders, and enforcement action during construction. A numerical value for the LOD must be clearly displayed on the E&S Plan.
    • The E&S Plan must be prepared in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Program Manual (2012 or latest), Chapter 1 – Required E&S Plan Content. E&S measures (e.g., compost filter sock, rock construction entrance, etc.) are referred to as E&S Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the PA DEP Manual.
    • The E&S Plan must also comply with the following requirements specific to the Philadelphia Water Department. Should E&S Plan requirements conflict between PA DEP and PWD, the applicant is to follow the specific PWD E&S Plan requirements presented in this Manual.
    • A sample E&S Plan is available here for the applicant's reference.
  • Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan Report
    • The PCSMP Report contains a detailed discussion of the proposed development and its impacts to the volume, rate, and quality of stormwater runoff from the site. It also contains descriptions of the project site, stormwater management criteria, calculations, maps, and other supporting documentation. The applicant may refer to Chapter 3 for information on stormwater management criteria and calculations.
    • The PCSMP Report must be signed and sealed by a Professional Engineer licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
    • Specific requirements for the PCSMP Report are listed in Appendix E, Table E-7.
Proof of Application for Applicable State and Federal Permits
  • Proof of issuance is required for PWD sign-off on a Building Permit; however, the applicant must only prove that they have applied for all applicable permits within the initial submission for PCSMP Review to proceed. To provide proof of application, the applicant must submit copies of permit applications, application receipts, or notification letters from relevant agencies.
  • Applicable permits include various State and Federal permits that may be required for development on a given site. If the project will involve earth disturbance of more than one acre, the applicant may need to obtain a PA DEP General (PAG-02) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit or Individual NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activities. It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine which permits are required by other regulatory agencies for a project. The applicant is referred to Section 2.6 for information on Zoning Code requirements and to Section 2.7 for information on NPDES Permit requirements.
Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan Submittal Fee
  • For up-to-date fee information, the applicant is referred to PWD Regulations Attachment A: Rates and Charges.
  • Payment must come in the form of a cashier’s check, business check, or money order, made payable to “City of Philadelphia.” Personal checks will not be accepted.
  • The PWD project tracking number must be listed on the check or included in an accompanying transmittal letter.
Submission and Review Process
  • The applicant submits a complete PCSMP Review Phase Submission Package to PWD in both hard copy and electronic form. The electronic copies of the submission materials can be included in the hard copy submission on a CD-ROM or other electronic file storage format, or they can be provided separately via FTP servers or online file hosting.
  • PWD conducts an initial PCSMP administrative screening of the submitted materials to confirm that all necessary components are included. If any of the PCSMP Review Phase Submission Package components are found to be missing or incomplete, PWD will contact the applicant by email.
  • Once PWD’s PCSMP administrative screening is complete, and PWD has verified the inclusion of all components, PWD contacts the applicant via email and begins the 15-day review period (five-day period for Expedited PCSMP Reviews, Section 2.4). During the review, PWD examines the submittal to determine if all applicable Stormwater Regulations are met for the project. PWD verifies all plans, documents, and calculations are legible, accurate, and consistent.
  • If PWD has comments on the submission, PWD issues the comments to the applicant via email. PWD issues all comments in a PCSMP Review letter, which is sent as an attachment to the email. In this email, the reviewer provides their contact information, and the applicant is encouraged to contact the reviewer directly if they have any questions about a particular comment. PCSMP Review comments can be discussed during weekly Walk-In Hours (Section 2.0.3); however, the applicant is encouraged to contact the assigned reviewer in advance to confirm the reviewer’s availability for the Walk-In session.
  • The applicant resubmits to PWD a revised PCSMP Review Phase Submission Package that addresses the comments in both hard copy and electronic form. The hard copy submission must include a CD-ROM, or other electronic file storage format, containing the electronic versions of the submission materials.
    • Each resubmission initiates the 15-day review period (five-day period for Expedited PCSMP Reviews).
    • Revised submittals must include all required revisions and new material, as well as a response letter addressing each review comment and indicating where the new information can be found.
    • A cover letter must be attached that describes any changes to the design that may not be included within the comment response letter.
    • This can be an iterative process, and PWD does not restrict the number of times an applicant can resubmit. At any time, the applicant or PWD may request a meeting to discuss review comments.
    • The hard copy submission must include a letter of transmittal identifying the PWD project tracking number, type of submission package (PCSMP, PCSMP Field Change, etc.) and the applicant's contact information.
  • Once all of the review comments have been addressed by the applicant, PWD will issue an Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Agreement(s) (Section 6.1.2) for signature and notarization, as well as invoices for additional fee payment consisting of a PCSMP Hourly Review Fee and O&M Agreement Recording Fee(s).
    • For the O&M Agreement(s), PWD compiles the signatory sections, the signatory acknowledgement sections, and Exhibit A, based on the information provided by the applicant within Worksheet 4 (Appendix G), which must be completed and submitted as part of the PCSMP Review Phase Submission Package. Incomplete and/or incorrect information within Worksheet 4 will prevent the issuance of a PCSMP Approval Letter until all omissions and/or discrepancies are addressed. Exhibit B lists all SMPs to be constructed on the listed parcel(s).
    • For up-to-date information on the PCSMP Hourly Review Fee, the applicant is referred to PWD Regulations Attachment A; Rates and Charges.
    • The O&M Agreement Fee is determined by the fee schedule established with the City of Philadelphia Department of Records.
    • The applicant submits fee payments in the form of a cashier’s check, business check, or money order, made payable to “City of Philadelphia.” Personal checks will not be accepted. The PWD project tracking number must be listed on all checks or included in an accompanying transmittal letter.
  • Upon receipt of fee check(s) and two original, signed, and notarized copies of each O&M Agreement, PWD issues a PCSMP Approval Letter via email.
  • After issuance of the PCSMP Approval Letter, a representative of PWD will sign the O&M Agreement(s), and the O&M Agreement(s) are then recorded with the City of Philadelphia Department of Records on behalf of the property owner. A copy of the signed, fully executed O&M Agreement(s) will be mailed to the signatory at the conclusion of the recording process.
  • The applicant must submit the PCSMP Approval Letter along with any other required prerequisite materials to PWD WTR when acquiring signatures on Building Permit applications.

Figure 2.3-5: Development Compliance Review Path PCSMP Review Phase Flow Chart

Field Changes

PWD recognizes that design changes may be necessary after PWD issues the PCSMP Approval Letter.  If construction must deviate from approved plans, the applicant must contact PWD immediately. Deviations include, but are not limited to:

  • Location, size, and/or type of SMPs;
  • Infiltration feasibility; and/or
  • Other changes in the stormwater conveyance system.

Depending on the extent of the deviation, PWD may request that the applicant submit formally for field change approval. Field changes are given priority in the PCSMP Review queue and will be reviewed as soon as possible. The applicant must speak directly to the assigned reviewer to determine what must be included in the field change submittal. An additional hourly review fee may be applied to the review of all field changes.

At the completion of construction, PWD’s Inspections Coordinator must be contacted to schedule a final inspection (Chapter 5). This will initiate the Record Drawings Review Phase.

Expiration Policy

For the PCSMP Review Phase, the applicant has one year to resubmit in response to PWD comments, but may also request one additional six-month extension. A Project Extension Request Form can be found on the Stormwater Plan Review website.

A PCSMP approval is valid for two years from the date it is issued unless a valid Building or Demolition Permit is in place. There are no extensions. Projects that did not require Building or Demolition Permits from L&I will remain active if the project has advanced to active construction.

Record Drawing Review Phase

The Record Drawing Review Phase is the final Review Phase of the Stormwater Plan Review process for the Development Compliance Review Path.  A project is eligible to submit for the Record Drawing Review Phase upon completion of construction activities. 

PWD uses a project’s Record Drawings to verify compliance of the constructed site with the Stormwater Regulations and to document and verify the quantity of stormwater managed on a site. If compliance issues were observed during construction, PWD may request that L&I hold the Certificate of Occupancy until the Record Drawing Review Phase or final inspection is complete. It is critical that the Record Drawings reflect any changes from the Approved PCSMP design, approved field changes or otherwise, that may affect the performance of the SMPs. The Record Drawing Review Phase is complete when the applicant receives a letter confirming that the Record Drawing(s) are in general accordance with the Approved PCSMP.

Throughout construction, the contractor or engineer must document all SMP installations as described in the Construction Certification Package (CCP). The contractor must also keep the Approved PCSMP on-site at all times throughout the construction process and document all changes from the Approved PSCMP as they occur. PWD recommends marking up and tracking changes on an actual copy of the Approved PCSMP to simplify preparation of the Record Drawings. Using the Approved PCSMP as a base, the Record Drawings should highlight information confirmed to be in accordance with the Approved PCSMP in yellow and identify any deviations in red ink. The Record Drawings must be clear and legible.

Submission Package Components

The Record Drawing Review Phase Submission Package consists of materials listed in Figure 2.3-6, which must be submitted to PWD for review after the final inspection has been completed. All hard copy submissions must include a letter of transmittal identifying the PWD project tracking number, type of submission package (Record Drawing), and the applicant's contact information.

Figure 2.3-6: Development Compliance Review Path Record Drawing Review Phase Submission Package Checklist

DEVELOPMENT COMPLIANCE REVIEW PATH
Record Drawing Review Phase Submission Package Checklist
  Record Drawings
  Construction Certification Package
  Transmittal Letter
Record Drawings
  • The Record Drawings may be prepared by Professional Engineers, Registered Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Land Surveyors, Professional Geologists, and Contractors licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The preparer of the plan must display prominently their signature and professional seal, or, in the case of Licensed Contractors, their signature and L&I Contractor License Number, on each Record Drawing plan sheet. (PA DEP may have different requirements concerning the types of professionals who may prepare Record Drawings. For projects that require a NPDES Permit, the applicant is strongly encouraged to refer to PA DEP’s requirements for Record Drawings before selecting a professional to prepare Record Drawing(s) for PWD.)
  • The Record Drawing(s) must meet all requirements listed in Appendix E, Table E-8.
  • The applicant must submit one hard copy and one electronic copy to PWD.
  • The applicant is referred to Appendix K for a sample Record Drawing.
  • The applicant is referred to Section 5.3.2 for more information on Record Drawing construction documentation.
Construction Certification Package
  • The applicant is referred to Appendix J for the CCP Template and instructions.
  • The applicant must submit one electronic copy to PWD.
  • The applicant is referred to Section 5.3.1 for more information on CCP documentation during construction.
Submission and Review Process
  • The applicant submits a complete Record Drawing Review Phase Submission Package to PWD in both hard copy and electronic form. The hard copy submission must include a CD-ROM, or other electronic file storage format, containing the electronic versions of the submission materials. The hard copy submission must also include a letter of transmittal identifying the PWD project tracking number, type of submission package (Record Drawing), and the applicant's contact information.
  • PWD reviews the submitted Record Drawing(s) and CCP to ensure that the project has been constructed in accordance with the project’s Approved PCSMP.
  • Upon review, PWD will issue comments on the submission via email.
    • If the submitted Record Drawing Review Phase Submission Package is determined to be incomplete, the applicant must modify and/or add to the Record Drawings and/or CCP per the comments contained in the letter, and resubmit in both hard copy and electronic form. The hard copy submission must include a CD-ROM, or other electronic file storage format, containing the electronic versions of the submission materials.Depending on the number and complexity of review comments, the applicant may choose to include a response letter addressing each review comment.
    • If the submitted Record Drawings are determined to be complete, but constructed conditions differ from the Approved PCSMP, PWD may require the applicant to submit calculations prepared by a qualified design professional demonstrating compliance with Stormwater Regulations. Specifically, PWD may check the SMP storage volume, release rate, drainage areas, and other items that affect a site’s compliance with the Stormwater Regulations (Chapter 3). If the applicant cannot demonstrate compliance with the Stormwater Regulations, PWD will request that the applicant outline corrective actions to bring the project into compliance. If necessary, and once corrective actions have been performed, the applicant must contact PWD to re-inspect. If necessary, the applicant must submit requested materials that address the comments in both hard copy and electronic form. The hard copy submission must include a CD-ROM, or other electronic file storage format, containing the electronic versions of the submission materials.
    • If the Record Drawings are determined to be in general accordance with the Approved PCSMP, PWD will issue a letter via email stating as such.

Most non-residential and condominium projects that comply with Stormwater Regulations per a Record Drawing review and final inspection may be eligible for stormwater billing credits. A Stormwater Credits Application (Form B) may be submitted to PWD Stormwater Billing and Incentives for review once the previously-outlined steps are completed. This form, and more information on PWD’s Stormwater Billing Program, can be found on the Stormwater Billing and Incentives website.

Figure 2.3-7: Development Compliance Review Path Record Drawing Review Phase Flow Chart

2.3.2 Development Exemption Review Path

Conceptual Review Phase

The Conceptual Review Phase is the first Review Phase of the Stormwater Plan Review process for the Development Exemption Review Path.  A project is initiated with the submission of the ERSA Application to PWD, which includes a Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package.

Submission Package Components

The Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package for the Development Exemption Review Path contains an E&S Plan which PWD will use to verify the proposed project LOD and to confirm the E&S Plan has been prepared in accordance with the E&S requirements of the PA DEP as specified in 25 Pa. Code §102.4.

A complete Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package for the Development Exemption Review Path consists of the materials listed in Figure 2.3-8.

Figure 2.3-8: Development Exemption Review Path Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package Checklist

DEVELOPMENT EXEMPTION REVIEW PATH
Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package Checklist
  Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Plan
Erosion and Sediment Control Plan
  • The E&S Plan displays the post-construction condition along with other site characteristics related to the earth disturbance activities and proposed E&S measures for a project site.
  • The E&S Plan must include a LOD line type which is drawn around all proposed site features, E&S controls, and other areas that may be disturbed over the course of construction for activities such as construction staging, re-grading, demolition, etc. The applicant is advised to be conservative when estimating the LOD to avoid proceeding along the wrong Review Path, which could lead to costly delays, change orders, and enforcement action during construction. A numerical value for the LOD must be clearly displayed on the E&S Plan.
  • The E&S Plan must be prepared in accordance with the PA DEP Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Program Manual (2012 or latest), Chapter 1 – Required E&S Plan Content. E&S measures (e.g., compost filter sock, rock construction entrance, etc.) are referred to as E&S BMPs in the PA DEP Manual.
  • The E&S Plan must also comply with the following requirements specific to the Philadelphia Water Department. Should E&S Plan requirements conflict between PA DEP and PWD, the applicant is to follow the specific PWD E&S Plan requirements presented in this Manual.
  • A sample E&S Plan is available here for the applicant's reference.
Submission and Review Process
  • The applicant submits the Conceptual Review Submission Phase Package as a component of a complete ERSA Application Submission Package (Section 2.1.1) via the Stormwater Plan Review website.
  • PWD issues an email confirmation that the submission has been received.
  • PWD reviews the ERSA Application Submission Package, including the Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package, within five calendar days.
    • PWD reviews the submitted plans and documentation by analyzing the proposed development and LOD to confirm exemption from the Stormwater Regulations and by confirming the development of an E&S Plan. PWD performs an initial review of proposed water and sewer connections and possible conflicts with PWD infrastructure. However, this represents only a preliminary review, and the applicant will still need to obtain separate connection permits outside of this Conceptual Review Phase (Section 2.5).
  • If PWD has comments on the submission, PWD issues the comments to the applicant via email.
  • The applicant resubmits to PWD, via email, a revised Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package that addresses the comments. Depending on the number and complexity of comments, the applicant may choose to include a response letter addressing each review comment and outlining any major plan or design changes. This can be an iterative process, and PWD does not restrict the number of times an applicant can resubmit. At any time, the applicant or PWD may request a meeting to discuss review comments.
  • If PWD has no comments, or if the comments have been addressed sufficiently by the applicant, PWD issues an email confirming Conceptual approval of the project, including electronic copies of a Conceptual Approval Letter, and a PWD-stamped E&S Plan. These items are also to be sent in hard copy form to the Primary Design Contact listed in the ERSA Application.
    • Within the Conceptual Approval Letter, PWD will state whether the applicant must complete an E&S Review Phase. The applicant is referred to Section 2.2.2 for more information on the type of projects that will require an E&S Review.
    • For projects whose earth disturbance will exceed one acre, PWD may defer the E&S review to PA DEP. If PWD does defer a review to PA DEP, this will be stated in the Conceptual Approval Letter. In this circumstance, earth disturbance activities cannot begin until PA DEP approves the E&S Plan and/or issues the NPDES Permit (if required). The applicant must also send an electronic copy of plans approved by PA DEP to PWD.
  • The applicant may use the Conceptual Approval Letter and PWD-stamped E&S Plan when filing a Zoning Application.
  • If an E&S Review Phase is not required, the applicant may use the Conceptual Approval Letter and PWD-stamped E&S Plan in the process of obtaining Building Permit sign-off from PWD.  The applicant is referred to Section 2.5 for more information on other reviews for Building Permit sign-off.

Figure 2.3-9: Development Exemption Review Path Conceptual Review Phase Flow Chart

Expiration Policy

For the Conceptual Review Phase, the applicant has one year to resubmit in response to PWD comments, but may also request one additional six-month extension. A Project Extension Request Form can be found at the Stormwater Plan Review website.

For Development Exemption projects, a Conceptual Approval Letter is valid for two years from the date of issuance unless a valid Building or Demolition Permit is in place. There are no extensions. Projects that did not require Building or Demolition Permits from L&I will remain active if the project has advanced to active construction.

For Development Exemption projects that require an E&S approval from PWD, the applicant will have one year to submit an E&S Review Phase Submission Package after the Conceptual Approval Letter is issued, but may also request one additional six-month extension. Beyond this extension, Conceptual approvals will only remain active if there is a valid Zoning Permit in place.

E&S Review Phase (If Applicable)

The E&S Review Phase is the final Review Phase required for projects in the Development Exemption Review Path that must obtain E&S approval. This second phase applies to projects proposing more than 15,000 square feet of earth disturbance (5,000 square feet in the Darby and Cobbs Creeks Watershed) while qualifying for an exemption from PCSM Requirements (Section 1.2.1). A project is eligible to submit for the E&S Review Phase after receiving a Conceptual Approval Letter from PWD, which will also notify the applicant if an E&S Review Phase Submission Package is required.

If a project undergoes major changes after PWD issues the Conceptual Approval Letter, the applicant must contact PWD to determine if a revised Conceptual approval is needed before proceeding to the E&S Review Phase. Examples of major changes that would require a new Conceptual approval include, but are not limited to:

  • Changes to proposed LOD, and
  • Changes in proposed impervious area (such as building footprint or location).

At the end of this Review Phase, PWD will issue an E&S Approval Letter. The E&S Approval Letter is not a permit, but rather a prerequisite necessary before earth disturbance activities can begin.

Submission Package Components

A complete E&S Review Phase Submission Package for the Development Exemption Review Path consists of the materials listed in Figure 2.3-10. All hard copy submissions must include a letter of transmittal identifying the PWD project tracking number, type of submission package (E&S), and the applicant's contact information.

Figure 2.3-10: Development Exemption Review Path E&S Review Phase Submission Package Checklist

DEVELOPMENT EXEMPTION REVIEW PATH
E&S Review Phase Submission Package Checklist
  Signed and Sealed Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Plan
  Transmittal Letter
Signed and Sealed E&S Plan
  • The E&S Plan displays the post-construction condition along with other site characteristics related to the earth disturbance activities and proposed E&S measures for a project site.
  • The E&S Plan must include an LOD line type which is drawn around all proposed site features, E&S controls, and other areas that may be disturbed over the course of construction for activities such as construction staging, re-grading, demolition, etc. The applicant is advised to be conservative when estimating the LOD to avoid proceeding along the wrong Review Path, which could lead to costly delays, change orders, and enforcement action during construction. A numerical value for the LOD must be clearly displayed on the E&S Plan.
  • The E&S Plan must be prepared in accordance with the PA DEP Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Program Manual (2012 or latest), Chapter 1 – Required E&S Plan Content. E&S measures (e.g., compost filter sock, rock construction entrance, etc.) are referred to as E&S BMPs in the PA DEP Manual.
  • The E&S Plan must also comply with the following requirements specific to the City of Philadelphia and the Stormwater Regulations. Should E&S Plan requirements conflict between PA DEP and PWD, the applicant is to follow the specific PWD E&S Plan requirements presented in this Manual.
  • The Signed and Sealed E&S Plan must be signed and sealed by a Registered Professional licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first sheet of the plan set must have an original signature (not an electronic, scanned, or stamped copy) while the remaining plans may have a facsimile seal.
  • A sample E&S Plan is available here for the applicant's reference.
Submission and Review Process
  • The applicant submits a complete E&S Review Phase Submission Package to PWD in both hard copy and electronic form. The hard copy submission must include a CD-ROM, or other electronic file storage format, containing the electronic versions of the submission materials. The hard copy submission must also include a letter of transmittal identifying the PWD project tracking number, type of submission package (E&S), and the applicant's contact information.
  • PWD reviews the submission within 15 calendar days.
  • If PWD has comments on the submission, PWD issues the comments to the applicant via email.
  • The applicant resubmits to PWD a revised E&S Review Phase Submission Package that addresses the comments in both hard copy and electronic form. The hard copy submission must include a CD-ROM, or other electronic file storage format, containing the electronic versions of the submission materials. Depending on the number and complexity of comments, the applicant may choose to include a response letter addressing each review comment and oulining any major plan or design changes. This can be an iterative process, and PWD does not restrict the number of times an applicant can resubmit. At any time, the applicant or PWD may request a meeting to discuss review comments.
  • If PWD has no comments, or if comments have been addressed sufficiently by the applicant, PWD issues an E&S Approval Letter by email. The E&S Approval Letter is not a permit, but rather a prerequisite necessary to begin earth disturbance activities.
  • The applicant may use their E&S Approval Letter in the process of obtaining Building Permit sign-off from PWD. The applicant is referred to Section 2.5 for more information on other reviews for Building Permit sign-off.

Figure 2.3-11: Development Exemption Review Path E&S Review Phase Flow Chart

Expiration Policy

For the E&S Review Phase, the applicant has one year to resubmit in response to PWD comments, but may also request one additional six-month extension. A Project Extension Request Form can be found at the Stormwater Plan Review website.

An E&S Approval Letter is valid for two years from the date it is issued unless a valid Building or Demolition Permit is in place. There are no extensions. Projects that did not require Building or Demolition Permits from L&I will remain active if the project has advanced to active construction.

2.3.3 Demolition Review Path

Conceptual Review Phase

The Conceptual Review Phase is the first Review Phase of the Stormwater Plan Review process for the Demolition Review Path.  A project is initiated with the submission of the ERSA Application to PWD, which includes a Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package.

Submission Package Components

The Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package for the Demolition Review Path contains a Demolition Plan and an E&S Plan. PWD uses these components to confirm the proposed project LOD, that the project is limited to just demolition,  and to confirm that the E&S Plan has been prepared with the E&S requirements of the PA DEP as specified in 25 Pa. Code §102.4.

A complete Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package for the Demolition Review Path consists of the materials listed in Figure 2.3-12.

Figure 2.3-12: Demolition Review Path Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package Checklist

DEMOLITION REVIEW PATH
Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package Checklist
  Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Plan
  Demolition Plan
Erosion and Sediment Control Plan
  • The E&S Plan is representative of the stabilized post demolition site condition and displays site characteristics related to the earth disturbance activities and proposed E&S measures. The E&S Plan must show that the site will be left in a stabilized condition that does not create a public health and safety concern.  Further, site preparation for future development activities including foundation work associated with an L&I Foundation-Only Building Permit, is not permitted as part of the Demolition Review Path. In order for the project to complete the Demolition Review Path, all disturbed areas must be stabilized with pervious cover (e.g., grass, gravel, etc.).
  • The E&S plan must include a LOD line type which is drawn around all proposed site features, structures to be removed, E&S controls, and other areas that may be disturbed over the course of demolition. The applicant is advised to be conservative when estimating the LOD so as to avoid continuing down the wrong Review Path, which could lead to costly delays, change orders, and enforcement action during construction.
  • A numerical value for the LOD must be clearly displayed on the E&S Plan.
  • The E&S Plan must be prepared in accordance with the PA DEP Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Program Manual (2012 or latest), Chapter 1 – Required E&S Plan Content. E&S measures (e.g., compost filter sock, rock construction entrance, etc.) are referred to as E&S BMPs in the PA DEP Manual.
  • The E&S Plan must also comply with the following requirements specific to the Philadelphia Water Department. Should E&S Plan requirements conflict between PA DEP and PWD, the applicant is to follow the specific PWD E&S Plan requirements presented in this Manual.
  • A sample E&S Plan is available here for the applicant's reference.
Demolition Plan
  • The Demolition Plan is representative of existing conditions and identifies all site features to be removed during demolition
  • The Demolition Plan identifies all utilities and lateral connections that will be abandoned including cut and plug locations.
  • All requirements listed in Appendix E, Table E-2: Existing Conditions Plan Requirements must be met.
Submission and Review Process
  • The applicant submits the Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package as a component of a complete ERSA Application Submission Package (Section 2.1.1) via the Stormwater Plan Review website.
  • PWD issues an email confirmation to the applicant that the submission has been received.
  • PWD reviews the ERSA Application Submission Package, including the Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package, within five calendar days.
    • PWD reviews the submitted plans and documentation by analyzing the proposed development and LOD to confirm exemption from the Stormwater Regulations and by confirming the development of an E&S Plan prepared by a Professional Engineer licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  • If PWD has comments on the submission, PWD issues the comments to the applicant via email.
  • The applicant resubmits to PWD, via email, a revised Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package that addresses the comments. Depending on the number and complexity of comments, the applicant may choose to include a response letter addressing each review comment and outlining any major plan or design changes. This can be an iterative process, and PWD does not restrict the number of times an applicant can resubmit. At any time, the applicant or PWD may request a meeting to discuss review comments.
  • If PWD has no comments, or if the comments have been addressed sufficiently by the applicant, PWD issues an email confirming Conceptual approval of the project and including electronic copies of a Conceptual Approval Letter and a PWD-stamped E&S Plan. These items are also sent in hard copy form to the Primary Design Contact listed in the ERSA Application.
    • Within the Conceptual Approval Letter, PWD will state whether the applicant must complete an E&S Review Phase and obtain an E&S approval. The applicant is referred to Section 2.2.4 for more information on the type of projects that will require an additional E&S review.
    • For projects whose earth disturbance will exceed one acre, PWD may defer the E&S review to PA DEP. If PWD does defer a review to PA DEP, this will be stated in the Conceptual Approval Letter. In this circumstance, demolition or earth disturbance activities cannot begin until PA DEP approves the E&S Plan and/or issues the NPDES Permit (if required). The applicant must also send an electronic copy of plans approved by PA DEP to PWD.
  • If an E&S Review Phase is not required, the applicant may use the Conceptual Approval Letter and signed copy of the E&S Plan in the process of obtaining Building Permit sign-off for Demolition from PWD. The applicant is referred to Section 2.5 for more information on other reviews for Building Permit sign-off.
    • If the project requires a Building Permit, the applicant must contact PWD to determine if a different Review Path is more appropriate for the project.
    • If the Demolition project involves the removal of impervious surfaces, the applicant can visit the PWD Stormwater Billing website to determine whether the project site is eligible for a reduction in its monthly stormwater bill. Any questions regarding stormwater bill reductions should be directed to Stormwater Billing and Incentives at (215) 685-6070.

Figure 2.3-13: Demolition Review Path Conceptual Review Phase Flow Chart

Expiration Policy

For the Conceptual Review Phase, the applicant has one year to resubmit in response to PWD comments, but may also request one additional six-month extension. A Project Extension Request Form can be found at the Stormwater Plan Review website.

For Demolition Review Path projects, a Conceptual Approval Letter is valid for two years from the date of issuance unless a valid Building or Demolition Permit is in place. There are no extensions. Projects that did not require Building or Demolition Permits from L&I will remain active if the project has advanced to active construction.

For Demolition Review Path projects that require an E&S approval from PWD, the applicant will have one year to submit an E&S Review Phase Submission Package after the Conceptual Approval Letter is issued, but may also request one additional six-month extension. Beyond this extension, Conceptual approvals will only remain active if there is a valid Zoning Permit in place.

E&S Review Phase (If Applicable)

The E&S Review Phase is the final Review Phase required for projects in the Demolition Review Path that must obtain E&S approval. This second phase applies to projects proposing more than 15,000 square feet of earth disturbance (5,000 square feet in the Darby and Cobbs Creek Watershed). A project is eligible to submit for the E&S Review Phase after receiving a Conceptual Approval Letter from PWD, which will also notify the applicant if an E&S Review Phase Submission Package is required.

If a project undergoes major changes after PWD issues the Conceptual Approval Letter, the applicant must contact PWD to determine if a revised Conceptual Approval Letter is needed before proceeding to the E&S Review Phase. Examples of major changes that would require a new Conceptual approval include, but are not limited to:

  • Changes to proposed LOD, and
  • Changes in proposed impervious area (such as building footprint or location).

For the Demolition Review Path, the E&S Review Phase is the final review before demolition. At the end of this Review Phase, PWD will issue an E&S Approval Letter. The E&S Approval Letter is not a permit, but rather a prerequisite necessary before earth disturbance and demolition activities can begin.

Submission Package Components

A complete E&S Review Phase Submission Package for the Demolition Review Path consists of the materials listed in Figure 2.3-14. All hard copy submissions must include a letter of transmittal identifying the PWD project tracking number, type of submission package (E&S), and the applicant's contact information.

Figure 2.3-14: Demolition Review Path E&S Review Phase Submission Package Checklist

DEMOLITION REVIEW PATH
E&S Review Phase Submission Package Checklist
  Signed and Sealed Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Plan
  Transmittal Letter
Signed and Sealed E&S Plan
  • The E&S Plan displays the post-construction condition along with other site characteristics related to the earth disturbance activities and proposed E&S measures for a project site.
  • The E&S Plan must include an LOD line type which is drawn around all proposed site features, E&S controls, and other areas that may be disturbed over the course of construction for activities such as construction staging, regrading, demolition, etc. The applicant is advised to be conservative when estimating the LOD to avoid proceeding along the wrong Review Path, which could lead to costly delays, change orders, and enforcement action during construction. A numerical value for the LOD must be clearly displayed on the E&S Plan.
  • The E&S Plan must be prepared in accordance with the PA DEP Erosion and Pollution Control Program Manual (2012 or latest), Chapter 1 – Required E&S Plan Content. E&S measures (e.g., compost filter sock, rock construction entrance, etc.) are referred to as E&S BMPs in the PA DEP Manual.
  • The E&S Plan must also comply with the following requirements specific to the City of Philadelphia and the Stormwater Regulations. Should E&S Plan requirements conflict between PA DEP and PWD, the applicant is to follow the specific PWD E&S Plan requirements presented in this Manual.
  • The Signed and Sealed E&S Plan must be signed and sealed by a Registered Professional licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first sheet of the plan set must have an original signature (not an electronic, scanned, or stamped copy), while the remaining plans may have a facsimile seal.
  • A sample E&S Plan is available here for the applicant's reference.
Submission and Review Process
  • The applicant submits a complete E&S Review Phase Submission Package to PWD in both hard copy and electronic form. The hard copy submission must include a CD-ROM, or other electronic file storage format, containing the electronic versions of the submission materials. The hard copy submission must also include a letter of transmittal identifying the PWD project tracking number, type of submission package (E&S), and the applicant's contact information.
  • PWD reviews the submission within 15 calendar days.
  • If PWD has comments on the submission, PWD issues the comments to the applicant via email.
  • The applicant resubmits to PWD a revised E&S Review Phase Submission Package that addresses the comments in both hard copy and electronic form. The hard copy submission must include a CD-ROM, or other electronic file storage format containing the electronic versions of the submission materials. Depending on the number and complexity of comments, the applicant may choose to include a response letter addressing each review comment and oulining any major plan or design changes. This can be an iterative process, and PWD does not restrict the number of times an applicant can resubmit. At any time, the applicant or PWD may request a meeting to discuss review comments.
  • If PWD has no comments, or if comments have been addressed sufficiently by the applicant, PWD issues an E&S Approval Letter by email. The E&S Approval Letter is not a permit, but rather a prerequisite necessary before earth disturbance and demolition activities can begin.
  • For Demolition Review Path projects, the applicant may use their E&S Approval Letter in the process of obtaining Building Permit sign-off from PWD. The applicant is referred to Section 2.5 for more information on other reviews for Building Permit sign-off.
    • If the project requires a Building Permit, the applicant must contact PWD to determine if a different Review Path is more appropriate for the project.
    • If the Demolition project involves the removal of impervious surfaces, the applicant can visit the PWD Stormwater Billing website to determine whether the project site is eligible for a reduction in its monthly stormwater bill.  Any questions regarding stormwater bill reductions should be directed to Stormwater Billing and Incentives at (215) 685-6070.

Figure 2.3-15: Demolition Review Path E&S Review Phase Flow Chart

Expiration Policy

For the E&S Review Phase, the applicant has one year to resubmit in response to PWD comments, but may also request one additional six-month extension. A Project Extension Request Form can be found at the Stormwater Plan Review website.

An E&S Approval Letter is valid for two years from the date it is issued unless a valid Building or Demolition Permit is in place. There are no extensions. Projects that did not require Building or Demolition Permits from L&I will remain active if the project has advanced to active construction.

2.4 Expedited Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan Reviews

As an incentive for an applicant proposing green stormwater strategies for stormwater management, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) offers two Expedited Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) Reviews:

This Section assists the applicant in determining whether a project qualifies for an Expedited PSCMP Review, elaborates on the modified submission requirements (Section 2.4.3), and provides a list of benefits included in the process.

Only projects in the Development Compliance Review Path can qualify for Expedited PCSMP Review. If eligible, the applicant must identify the project as a candidate for either the Disconnection Green Review or the Surface Green Review when submitting the Existing Resources and Site Analysis (ERSA) Application (Section 2.1).

Chapter 3 provides detailed guidance on stormwater management approaches, which the applicant can use as a guide to determine which strategies are appropriate for their site and whether the project may qualify for an Expedited PCSMP Review. Under an Expedited PCSMP Review, the PSCMP Review Phase (Section 2.2.3) differs from projects that take a more traditional approach to stormwater management. These differences are discussed in the following sections.

2.4.1 Disconnection Green Review

Only Redevelopment projects that are exempt from the Channel Protection and Flood Control requirements as defined in Section 1.2.1 are eligible for a Disconnection Green Review, and they must disconnect 95% or more of the post-construction impervious area within the project’s limits of disturbance (LOD). Projects eligible for a Disconnection Green Review only use disconnected impervious cover (DIC) to comply with Post-Construction Stormwater Management (PCSM) Requirements (Section 1.2.1). Examples of projects that are most likely to benefit from this approach include trail and park projects, as well as residential and industrial projects where significant green roofs and/or porous pavement DIC are proposed.

Disconnections eligible for use in Disconnection Green Reviews include:

The applicant must identify the project’s intent to qualify for a Disconnection Green Review when submitting the ERSA Application (Section 2.1) and will be notified by PWD of the project’s eligibility.

Projects qualifying for the Disconnection Green Review benefit from the following:

  • Shorter (five-day) review during the PCSMP Review Phase;
  • Exemption from the infiltration testing requirements (Section 3.3); and
  • Use of PWD Standard Details for green roofs and porous pavements.

2.4.2 Surface Green Review

New Development and Redevelopment projects that can demonstrate that 100% of post-construction impervious area within the project’s LOD is managed by DIC and/or bioinfiltration/bioretention basins to comply with PCSM Requirements (Section 1.2.1) are eligible for Surface Green Review.

Eligible stormwater management practices (SMPs) and disconnections consist of:

The applicant must identify the project’s intent to qualify for a Surface Green Review when submitting the ERSA Application (Section 2.1) and will be notified by PWD of the project’s eligibility.

Projects qualifying for a Surface Green Review benefit from the following:

  • Shorter (five-day) review during the PCSMP Review Phase;
  • An option to delay infiltration testing until construction to provide flexibility and potential cost savings. This only applies to projects using bioinfiltration/bioretention basins meeting the minimum requirements set forth in the Bioinfiltration/Bioretention Basin Standard Detail in conjunction with the Bioinfiltration/Bioretention Basin Sizing Table in Section 4.1; and
  • Use of PWD Standard Details for bioinfiltration/bioretention basins, green roofs, and porous pavement.

Projects that qualify for a Surface Green Review must still meet all applicable PCSM Requirements, which may include the Channel Protection, Flood Control, and Public Health and Safety Release Rate requirements. However, using DIC as a stormwater management strategy, an applicant may be able to qualify for exemptions from Channel Protection and Flood Control requirements by demonstrating a 20% reduction in impervious area from the predevelopment condition to the post-development condition (Section 1.2.1). Use of trade management as a compliance strategy (Section 3.2.4) may preclude a project from qualifying for a Surface Green Review. Applications that fall into this category are encouraged to contact PWD prior to ERSA Application submission to confirm Expedited PCSMP Review eligibility.

2.4.3 Expedited PCSMP Review Process

An applicant who chooses to pursue either the Disconnection Green Review or Surface Green Review must declare this intent when submitting the ERSA Application (Section 2.1.1). By doing so, PWD can evaluate whether specific review requirements are being met in the Conceptual Review Phase (Section 2.3) and the applicant will know early on when, or if, infiltration testing will be required during the design process.

If the stormwater management approach changes during the plan review process and the applicant would like to consider pursuing an Expedited PCSMP Review, the applicant must contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review before resubmitting to discuss specific design and submission requirements.

The applicant is encouraged to use the Standard Details, including details for green roofs, porous pavements, and bioinfiltration/bioretention basins, available on the PWD Stormwater Plan Review website when designing their project for Expedited PCSMP Review. Projects that are required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection should plan accordingly, as the shorter review times of PWD’s Expedited PCSMP Reviews do not affect the NPDES Permit review process (Section 2.7).

2.5 PWD’s Development Review Process

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is organized into several different programs, each with various responsibilities and authority regarding land development. Many of the approvals needed from programs other than Stormwater Plan Review are related to water and sewer connections or instances in which PWD infrastructure is affected by a proposed development. The following Section briefly introduces each PWD program involved in the development approval process, focusing on its role within the process (Table 2.5-1). The applicant should keep in mind that, although Stormwater Plan Review coordinates with other programs through the stormwater review process, it is the applicant’s responsibility to make sure he or she obtains all needed approvals from applicable PWD programs and other City and State agencies before beginning construction.

Table 2.5-1: Reviews by PWD Programs Based on Project Characteristics

Project
Characteristic

PWD Programs

GSI Implementation Unit

Design Branch

Water Transport
Records

Projects Control

Industrial Waste and
Backflow Compliance

Stormwater Plan
Review

GSI Planning
and Design

Stormwater Billing
and Incentives

Triggers
Stormwater
Regulations

X

       

X

 
Water Service
Connection
       

X

X

 
Sewer Service
Connection1
       

X

X

 
Backflow
Prevention
       

X

X

X

Change to PWD
Infrastructure
     

X

 

X

 
Private Cost
Green Street
 

X

X

X

     
Stormwater
Retrofit2
 

X

X

 

     
Right-of-Way
Modification or
Encroachment
 

X

 

X

X

X

 
Private Cost Sewer
or Water Main Extension
     

X

X

X

 

X = Review/Coordination/Approvals may be required

1Sewer service connection reviewed in accordance with PA Act 537

2Unit responsible for review will depend on funding source

Not every development project must be reviewed by each program in this Section. The applicant should contact programs directly for questions regarding when and if plans should be submitted to that program for review. A summary of contact information and issued permits/approvals for each program is provided in Table 2.5-2.

Table 2.5-2: PWD Program Contact Information and Issued Permits/Approvals

Program Phone Issued Permits/Approvals

Stormwater Plan Review

  • (215) 685-6387
  • Conceptual Approval
  • Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) Approval
  • Record Drawing Compliance

Projects Control

  • (215) 685-6339
  • (215) 685-6353 (Act 537 Review)
  • Stamps Conceptual Stormwater Management Plans approved for Zoning
  • Act 537 Approval/ Exemption

Water Transport Records

  • (215) 685-6271 (Information and Service)
  • (215) 397-7097 (Inspection of Connections)
  • (215) 685-6275 (GPIS help)
  • (215) 685-6270 (Supervisor)
  • Stamps Building Permit application on behalf of PWD
  • Water Service Approval and Pre-Permit Application
  • Sewer Connection Approval (for sewer connections greater than six-inch) and Pre-Permit Application
  • Meter Installation Permit

Design Branch

  • (215) 685-6309
  • Private Cost Approval

Industrial Waste and Backflow Compliance

  • (215) 685-6085 (Industrial Waste)
  • (215) 683-2226 (Backflow Compliance)
  • Significant Industrial User (SIU) Wastewater Discharge Permit
  • Groundwater Discharge Permit
  • Hauled Wastewater Discharge Permit
  • Manhole Pumpout Permit
  • Form CP100 - Backflow Prevention Assembly Installation Permit

GSI Planning & Design

  • (215) 685-6213
  • Private Cost Green Street proposals

Stormwater Billing and Incentives

  • (215) 685-6070 (Stormwater Credits)
  • (215) 685-6244 (Stormwater Appeals)
  • Stormwater credits and adjustments
  • Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) grants
  • Greened Acre Retrofit Program (GARP) grants

Green Stormwater Infrastructure Implementation Unit

The Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Implementation Unit is part of the Planning and Environmental Services Division of PWD. The objective of the GSI Implementation Unit is to effectively develop and grow an integrated infrastructure resilience program to ensure ongoing regulatory compliance. The GSI Implementation Unit works with both public and private land to maximize opportunities for GSI improvements. The unit consists of four programs; Private Development Services, Stormwater Billing and Incentives, GSI Planning, and GSI Design. For the purposes of this Section, information about the GSI Planning and Design programs has been consolidated.

Private Development Services

Private Development Services is the larger PWD program that houses Stormwater Plan Review and Stormwater Inspections. Stormwater Plan Review is responsible for reviewing development plans for compliance with the PWD Stormwater Regulations. Stormwater Inspections is responsible for the inspection of stormwater facilities associated with development and retrofit projects during construction. In addition, the Private Development Services program conducts maintenance inspections of properties to ensure the property owner maintains SMPs to design function. Active and post-construction inspections are discussed in more detail in  Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 of this Manual.

Stormwater Billing and Incentives

Stormwater Billing and Incentives reviews Stormwater Retrofit projects and engages in partnership project opportunities between PWD and other entities. They also administer PWD’s stormwater grant programs, which provide funding and assistance to non-residential PWD customers and contractors. These programs aim to stimulate investment in and utilization of stormwater management practices, which reduce stormwater pollution to the City’s sewer system and surrounding waterways and enhance the region’s watersheds.

Development projects interested in over-sizing SMPs to manage additional area on-site or from the public right-of-way (ROW) are eligible for grant funding from PWD to accommodate the additional drainage area. PWD will provide funding at a flat rate per acre managed above and beyond the area required by the PWD Stormwater Regulations. Any applicant interested in grant opportunities for their project is urged to contact Stormwater Plan Review as early as possible in the design process. In addition, each development project submitted to PWD is analyzed for opportunities to over-size SMPs and the applicant may be contacted by PWD regarding grant funding. Additional information about funding available to development projects can be found on the Stormwater Plan Review website.

Stormwater Billing and Incentives also applies billing adjustments and stormwater credits to properties throughout the City, including those that have successfully met the Stormwater Regulations. A property’s current monthly stormwater charge can be determined using the PWD Stormwater Map Viewer. Most non-residential and condominium projects that comply with PWD's Stormwater Regulations per a final inspection at the close of construction and compliant Record Drawing review may be eligible for stormwater credits. A Stormwater Credits Application (Form B) may be submitted for review once the previously outlined steps are completed. The applicant is referred to Section 6.3 for more information on PWD's Stormwater Credits Program.

GSI Planning and Design (PWD Capital Projects)

Within the GSI Implementation Unit, the GSI Planning and Design teams' primary focus is to implement GSI projects that are built and maintained by PWD. GSI Planning conducts preliminary analysis and identifies locations for GSI in the public ROW and on city-owned property. GSI Design staff manage the design of GSI systems to ensure they meet PWD's standards.

GSI Planning and Design staff also work collaboratively with the Private Development Services and Stormwater Billing and Incentives programs to maximize stormwater management opportunities on various types of GSI projects. The GSI Planning team facilitates partnerships with city agencies and non-city entities to coordinate funding and project timelines for public retrofit projects and for partner projects managing beyond what is required by the Stormwater Regulations. GSI Planning and Design may assist developers in implementing stormwater projects by providing design guidance and funding options for management of additional stormwater. For these projects, Stormwater Plan Review will coordinate with GSI Planning and Design staff in the review processes.

In addition to maximizing stormwater management onsite, entities may be interested in building a green street as part of their project. To encourage the inclusion of green street elements, GSI Design provides technical assistance to land owners undertaking improvement projects within the ROW. This team approves proposals for developer-funded (Private Cost) green streets projects. The applicant is referred to the Green Streets Design Manual for more information. GSI Design also provides technical review and issues approvals for all other GSI partnership projects.

Planning and Research

Within the Planning and Research Unit, Water and Sewer Planning is responsible for reviewing preliminary water and sewer connections to PWD infrastructure proposed on Conceptual Stormwater Management Plans. Stormwater Plan Review incorporates comments from Water and Sewer Planning as part of the Conceptual Review Phase, as described in Section 2.3.

Projects Control

Projects Control is a review and coordinating entity within PWD with several important roles in the development process, including coordinating and processing private and public project submissions and approvals among multiple PWD units. Projects Control approves changes to PWD ROWs, such as easements and encroachments, including striking, shrinking, and establishing new ROWs. Stormwater Plan Review coordinates with Projects Control in the sign-off of Conceptual Stormwater Management Plans, signifying PWD approval for Zoning.

Prior to obtaining PWD sign-off on a Building Permit application, all projects must submit to Projects Control for Utility Plan Review. The Utility Plan Review looks for utility conflicts, ROW conflicts, connection location and size, and other potential issues.

Projects Control is also charged with ensuring that development projects in Philadelphia comply with Pennsylvania’s Sewage Facility Act, or PA Act 537. Act 537, as amended, was enacted to address existing sewage disposal problems and to prevent future problems by requiring proper planning, permitting and design of sewage disposal facilities. Projects Control reviews Act 537 Sewage Facilities Planning Modules submitted for development projects and issues either approvals or exemptions.  On-lot disposal systems (septic tanks) are discussed in the Act 537 Application Mailer for Public Sewers and are generally reviewed and permitted by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Projects Control receives all Submission Packages and Stormwater Plan Review Fees on behalf of Stormwater Plan Review.

Water Transport Records

Water Transport Records (WTR) is a key administrative and technical group within PWD that provides PWD sign-off on Building Permit applications; stamps sprinkler applications with current flow test data; verifies water and sewer availability for proposed development projects; reviews and approves proposed water and sewer connections; provides records of existing PWD Infrastructure to property owners, developers, and their agents through Pennsylvania One Call System; receives and supplies flow test orders to the public on behalf of Load Control; inspects sewer connections; and updates contract drawings and connections on existing utility return plans.

WTR issues stamps on Building Permit applications and sprinkler applications with up-to-date test flow data on behalf of PWD. WTR issues Water Service Approvals and Water Pre-Permit Applications and Sewer Connection Approvals (for sewer connections greater than six inches in diameter) and Sewer Pre-Permit Applications. Pre-Permit Applications must be submitted to the Water Desk at the City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspection (L&I), who will issue the actual permits. Sewer Connection Approvals will not be issued until all necessary reviews with Stormwater Plan Review and Design Branch are complete. WTR also issues Meter Installation Permits, reviews hydrant relocations, and reviews Guaranteed Pavement Information System (GPIS) utility clearance. Lastly, WTR reviews and inspects all connections from the point of connection to a PWD sewer to the curb trap. For more information, the applicant is referred to the Sewer Connection and Repair Manual.

Industrial Waste

Industrial Waste enforces local, State, and Federal regulations governing the discharge of wastewater into City wastewater collection systems.  In addition, Industrial Waste issues permits regulating industrial, commercial, and non-routine discharges to the City's sewers and wastewater treatment plants.  Permits such as Significant Industrial User (SIU) Wastewater Discharge Permits, Groundwater and/or Accumulated Stormwater Discharge Permits, and Manhole Pumpout Permits establish specific discharge, monitoring, and reporting requirements that promote preservation of the City's water resources.

Backflow Compliance

The City of Philadelphia has Cross Connection Control regulations to protect the health and integrity of its drinking water supply. The quality of Philadelphia’s drinking water could be compromised through a cross connection. A cross connection is an improper and illegal plumbing arrangement between a potable and non-potable water supply. These connections, under certain hydraulic conditions, can lead to dangerous “backflow” from a contaminated water system into drinking water.

Specifications regarding type, installation, and testing requirements for backflow prevention and cross connection control can be found in the Cross Connection Control Manual. Enforcement of Cross Connection Control regulations is a joint effort by PWD, L&I, and the Department of Public Health. In addition, Stormwater Plan Review may incorporate standard comments regarding backflow prevention as part of the Conceptual Review Phase. If an applicant has questions concerning backflow prevention requirements, he or she is encouraged to contact Backflow Compliance directly.

Design Branch

The Design Branch is PWD’s primary in-house design group and is responsible for designing repairs, upgrades, and alterations to many of PWD’s critical systems, including water and sewer infrastructure. The Design Branch approves changes to PWD infrastructure that may result from a development project. Approved changes include constructing water and sewer infrastructure to be owned and maintained by PWD through Private Cost projects, relocating existing fire hydrants and inlets, and evaluating the impacts of proposed development projects on or near existing PWD infrastructure.

A Private Cost project is a residential, commercial, or industrial development that proposes to construct PWD infrastructure with private or public funds other than funds provided by PWD. The process outlined in this Section is specific to traditional water and sewer infrastructure improvements as well as circumstances where existing PWD owned or maintained green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) must be moved or reconstructed to accommodate a development project. New Private Cost GSI improvements are reviewed in conjunction with the GSI Design program discussed earlier in this Section.

The requirements listed below also apply to projects initiated by local, State, and Federal agencies. PWD will accept and maintain water and drainage facilities installed by a developer or outside agency if they are designed and constructed in accordance with PWD standards, inspected and approved by a PWD Construction Unit inspector, and within public or designated ROWs.

For a Private Cost project, the applicant must adhere to the Private Cost Project Requirements, which were created to do the following:

  • Familiarize the developer and their consultant with the procedures and requirements for preparing design plans for the relocation and construction of water and/or sewer infrastructure that will be dedicated to the City of Philadelphia.
  • Streamline the Private Cost Plan review and approval process.
  • Ensure that all new water and sewer infrastructure is designed and constructed in conformance with PWD standards.
  • Evaluate maintenance and operational impacts of proposed development projects on/near existing PWD infrastructure, ensuring both the public and PWD receive sewers and water mains of the highest quality with a long and trouble-free service life.

Prior to PWD Design Branch’s final approval of the Private Cost plans, the applicant must submit a copy of all approvals, permits, etc. from outside agencies and departments related to the project. The applicant is referred to the Private Cost Manual 2017 for a checklist of deliverables.

Final Private Cost approval will be given when the Private Cost group's comments have been satisfied as determined by the PWD engineer assigned to the project. The applicant, upon receipt of the final approval letter, signed plans, and agreement, must instruct the contractor to contact PWD’s Inspections Coordinator (office: 215-685-6387) seven (7) days prior to construction to have a PWD inspector assigned to the project. 

2.6 PWD’s Role in Philadelphia’s Development Process

Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) approvals are only one part of the full set of approvals required for development within Philadelphia. PWD approvals are often prerequisites for other approvals or permits. For example, the PWD Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) approval is required before the applicant may obtain a Building Permit from the City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I). Less formally, PWD also coordinates reviews with other City agencies to promote continuity between department reviews and expedite the applicant through the City’s development review process when feasible.  This Section provides a brief description of the City departments with which PWD interacts and overlaps as part of the City’s development review process. It does not describe the full extent of each department’s work, but rather a perspective of their work as it relates to PWD’s review.

Licenses and Inspections

Permitting

PWD works closely with L&I to enforce the PWD Stormwater Regulations (Stormwater Regulations) through the issuance of various L&I permits, including Zoning and Building Permits, and through active construction and maintenance inspections. PWD sign-off is a prerequisite approval for many types of permits issued by L&I.

As part of the Zoning Permit review, the applicant will need to present the Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan and Approval Letter if the total earth disturbance associated with the project exceeds 5,000 square feet (Section 2.3). Although the primary purpose of the Conceptual Review Phase is to demonstrate compliance with the Stormwater Regulations, if the applicant is applying for a stormwater management based height or density bonus (such as the Green Roof Density Bonus or Height Bonus in the East Callowhill Overlay District), acknowledgement that PWD requirements for the bonus have been meet will be noted in the Conceptual Approval Letter. Therefore, it is important for the applicant to note in the ERSA Application (Section 2.1.1) if such a bonus is being sought. PWD does not review Conceptual Stormwater Management Plans for compliance with all aspects of the Zoning Code. It is the applicant’s responsibility to make sure all plans submitted to PWD are code-compliant.

A summary of required PWD approvals by L&I permit type is provided in Table 2.6-1.

Table 2.6-1: Summary of Required PWD Approval by L&I Permit Type

L&I Permit

Required PWD Approval

Zoning Permit

PWD Conceptual Approval is required for projects that propose more than 5,000 square feet of earth disturbance, or that are subject to the Wissahickon Watershed Overlay.

Building Permit – Demolition PWD Conceptual Approval is required for projects that propose more than 5,000 square feet of earth disturbance, or that are subject to the Wissahickon Watershed Overlay. If more than 15,000 square feet of earth disturbance (5,000 square feet in the Darby and Cobbs Creeks Watershed) of earth disturbance is proposed, additional E&S approvals will be required from PWD and/or PADEP (See Section 2.7).

Building Permit – Foundation Only and New Construction

Building Permit Application must be stamped by PWD Water Transport Records (WTR). The PWD Stormwater Plan Review Website contains a checklist of all prerequisite PWD approvals that must be presented to WTR in order to receive a PWD stamp on the Building Permit Application.

Plumbing Permit

Valid PWD Water Service Permit, PWD Meter Installation Permit, and PWD Backflow Prevention Assembly Installation Permit (as applicable). Projects proposing sewer connections greater than six inches in diameter must first complete a sewer connections review with PWD WTR.

Enforcement

PWD Private Development Services staff coordinate with L&I staff in the enforcement of development projects that are not in compliance with Stormwater Regulations or the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Program Manual (2012 or latest). When deemed necessary, PWD will request L&I enforcement support on non-compliant properties.

The City of Philadelphia Plumbing Code

L&I also administers the City of Philadelphia Plumbing Code (Plumbing Code). All requirements of the Plumbing Code must be met when designing a project to meet the Stormwater Regulations. This includes, but is not limited to, the design of all stormwater drainage piping as per the Plumbing Code. PWD will often refer the applicant to L&I for specific questions regarding sewer and water configurations as related to the Plumbing Code.

Philadelphia City Planning Commission

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) reviews development projects for various reasons, including the relocation of lot lines, location in Neighborhood Conservation Districts, Façade Control Districts, construction of parking garages or surface parking lots, and location within flood plains. As part of PCPC review, PWD’s Conceptual approval (see Section 2.3) may be required.  If the project involves relocation or striking of a public or drainage right-of-way (ROW), approval from PWD may be required. These prerequisite PWD approvals may also be requested by the Civic Design Review Committee for projects that trigger this requirement.

While PWD and PCPC generally conduct their reviews independently, these agencies work directly with each other to administer §14-510 Wissahickon Watershed Overlay of the Philadelphia Code.

Wissahickon Watershed Overlay

To help reduce flooding, erosion, siltation, and channel enlargement resulting from development within the Wissahickon Creek Watershed, additional stormwater management requirements and impervious coverage limits may apply to projects within this watershed.

Projects located in the Wissahickon Creek Watershed are subject to the Philadelphia City Code §14-510 / WWO Wissahickon Watershed Overlay District. A map of the overlay is provided within the Code; however, the applicant can determine whether the project lies within the overlay by using the City of Philadelphia online zoning map.

If the project is in the WWO, the applicant is advised to meet with PCPC prior to submitting the project’s Existing Resources and Site Analysis (ERSA) Application. Depending on the project’s location within the WWO, lot size, and net change in impervious area, PCPC may restrict new impervious cover, or impose additional stormwater management requirements (beyond PWD’s Stormwater Regulations), which must be noted by the applicant in the project’s ERSA Application (Section 2.1.1). Should the project be applicable to additional requirements as determined by PCPC, PWD Stormwater Plan Review will be responsible for review of the PCSMP.

PCPC does not use an earth disturbance threshold when determining whether stormwater management is required. Therefore, it is possible for development projects to trigger Post-Construction Stomwater Management Requirements under the WWO without triggering the Stormwater Regulations.  Projects that fall under this category must follow the Development Compliance Review Path as defined in Section 2.2.1.  These projects must also abide by all PWD design standards when designing systems to meet the WWO stormwater requirement.

Streets Department

The Streets Department is involved in the review of most development projects, particularly if a street opening or closing permit is required, there is bollard installation, new driveway or curb cuts are to be constructed, there are changes to ROWs or curb line widths, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements are needed, or other ROW improvements are involved. As part of their plan review process, the Streets Department solicits comments from PWD Stormwater Plan Review and PWD Design Branch to incorporate in their review letters. The comments provided by PWD will often direct the applicant to make a formal submission to the appropriate PWD unit for review.

If the applicant is proposing to make changes to PWD infrastructure located within the public ROW to accommodate a development, this work must be reviewed by the Streets Department. This includes minor improvements, such as relocation of an inlet, as well as major improvements, such as the complete striking of an existing drainage ROW. Some of these changes may also require the applicant to complete the Complete Streets Checklist with the Streets Department. As part of their review, the PWD Design Unit (Section 2.5) will clarify for the applicant when and how the Streets Department should be notified.

While not required for Regulatory compliance, the applicant is encouraged to review the Green Streets Design Manual for opportunities to incorporate stormwater management into streetscape improvements. If the applicant believes their project presents an opportunity to incorporate Green Streets, they are encouraged to contact GSI Planning and Design (Section 2.5) as early as possible in the design process.

Department of Planning and Development

The Department of Planning and Development facilitates the Developer Services Program, which helps large real estate projects connect to key City departments through Developer Services Committee Meetings. The applicant can contact the Department of Planning and Development to convene a meeting of the committee. A representative from Projects Control will serve as the PWD chair during these meetings.

Office of Property Assessment

For projects that trigger the Stormwater Regulations, PWD uses the Office of Property Assessment (OPA) address records to track projects and determine the appropriate address used in recording the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Agreements (Chapter 5). The applicant is encouraged to refer to the OPA website to confirm the legal address prior to submitting an ERSA Application to PWD. If an applicant disagrees with the address being used by PWD in the preparation of the O&M Agreement, the applicant should contact OPA for resolution.

PWD also uses OPA records to determine parcel boundaries and property classification (non-residential versus residential), which factor heavily into determining a monthly stormwater bill. If over the course of a development these features change, the applicant is advised to contact PWD Stormwater Billing and Incentives (Section 2.5) so that the appropriate changes are reflected in subsequent stormwater bills.

Department of Records

O&M Agreements are recorded against the property for all projects that trigger the Stormwater Regulations. The owner is responsible for the recording of the O&M Agreement with the Department of Records (DOR); however, PWD may record this Agreement on the owner’s behalf. The DOR charges a fee for all recordings and the DOR fee schedule is used to determine O&M Agreement recording fees. To obtain a copy of the recorded O&M Agreement, the applicant must contact DOR.

2.7 PWD and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

This Section outlines the circumstances in which the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) jointly review projects, as well as other circumstances in which reviews are conducted entirely by PA DEP. PWD does not determine what State permits apply to a development project. This is the responsibility of the applicant, who should contact PA DEP directly with any questions.

Please note that projects that are exempt from PA DEP Permit Requirements (such as projects receiving ACOE 404 Permits for Wetlands Mitigation) are not necessarily exempt from the PWD Stormwater Regulations. The applicant may consult Section 1.1 for more information on Applicability Factors and contact PWD with any questions.

2.7.1 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits

Most projects proposing more than one acre of earth disturbance are subject to both the General (PAG-02) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit or Individual NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activities and the PWD Stormwater Regulations (Stormwater Regulations). NPDES Permits for land development in Philadelphia are issued by PA DEP, not PWD. The applicants must send NPDES Permit Applications to the PA DEP Southeast Regional Office in Norristown, PA.  The applicant should contact PA DEP directly with questions concerning NPDES Permits. Municipal Notifications (such as those required under PA Acts 67, 68, and 127 of 2000) should be sent to PWD’s Projects Control Unit. For mailing address, the applicant is referred to Section 2.0.3. The PWD project tracking number should be listed on all notifications.

PWD recommends that NPDES Permit Applications are submitted concurrently to PA DEP with the Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) Review Phase Submission Package (see Section 2.3) to PWD. Instructions for completing the NPDES Permit Applications should be obtained directly from PA DEP.  However, the applicant may use the following general guidance when preparing and submitting a NPDES Permit Application:

  • On the NPDES Permit Application Notice of Intent for Coverage, the applicant may check under “2. PCSM Plan” that the project is meeting “C. Alternative Design Standard” and list the PWD Stormwater Regulations as the requirement being met.
  • If the applicant is applying for a phased NPDES Permit, the phases listed under Section C.4 must match the order of phases submitted to PWD under individual project tracking numbers (see Section 2.1.1 for information on PWD Stormwater Plan Review’s project tracking numbers).
  • The applicant must provide matching plans and reports to both PWD and PA DEP.
  • If the applicant is submitting an Infiltration Waiver Request Form to PWD for on-site contamination (Section 3.3), the applicant must also submit this waiver request to PA DEP for review as part of the NPDES Permit Application.

In addition to comments received by PWD, comments the applicant receives from PA DEP must also be incorporated into the PCSMP and Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Plans for PWD Stormwater Plan Review to issue PCSMP approval. PCSMP approval is a prerequisite for receiving a NPDES Permit. However, PWD Stormwater Plan Review will not issue PCSMP approval until receiving confirmation from PA DEP that there are no outstanding comments with the NPDES Permit review.

The applicant must present a copy of the NPDES Permit to PWD Water Transport Records in order to receive PWD sign-off on a Building Permit.

More information on PA DEP’s NPDES Permit Application process and requirements can be found at the following resources:

2.7.2 Other PA DEP Requirements

There are circumstances in addition to NPDES Permits for construction activities in which PA DEP review may be required for a project proposed in Philadelphia. These may include projects that are exempt from NPDES Permit Requirements but are still required to have an E&S Plan approved by PA DEP per 025 Pa. Code §102. This also includes projects that propose a new discharge to a water body or which propose activities within regulated waters of the Commonwealth as defined in 025 Pa. Code §105. The applicant is responsible for determining which State requirements apply to their project and are encouraged to contact PA DEP directly with any questions. 

TOP Manual Version: 3.1