rain garden

With help from Residents, Point Breeze Vacant Lot Is Becoming a River-Protecting Green Space

Point Breeze Cleanup & Block Party - June 2017

After two hot hours of picking up trash, weed-whacking, and sweeping at a vacant lot in Point Breeze, PowerCorps PHL’s Desmon Richardson, on hand with fellow crew members to bring some added muscle to the effort, suggested lining the small, triangular space with unused rocks from a pile sitting in the middle of the site.

Neighbors who’d been helping agreed: the natural-looking border was the perfect finishing touch for the renewed lot, concluding a sticky Saturday morning spent cleaning up the local eyesore.

Members of the Philadelphia Water Department’s Public Engagement team joined the local non-profit Diversified Community Services and area block captains on June 10 to clean the publicly-owned lot at Point Breeze Avenue and Mifflin Street—the future home of a rain garden that will soak up stormwater and bring regular maintenance to the site through Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program.

Similar efforts in other neighborhoods have led to dramatic improvements at formerly nuisance-plagued lots, something locals are hoping to repeat here.

Paint Day at Smith Playground: Learn About Green Improvements and Send Connor Barwin a Message

Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD
Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD

While Philly is mourning the news that Eagles defensive end and super citizen Connor Barwin is headed to another team, his Make the World Better Foundation has pledged to continue its good work and is moving forward on projects the fan-favorite helped to fund.

One of those projects is the renovation of West Passyunk’s Smith Playground, a total overhaul being led by the community, Parks and Recreation, the nonprofit Urban Roots, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and SERVE Philadelphia.
Barwin helped raise $150,000 for the project and then matched that amount, just as he did when helping to fund improvements at the nearby Ralph Brooks Park in 2014.

Improvements at the 7.5-acre Smith Playground will include green upgrades that support the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters program and help to protect local waterways from stormwater pollution.
On top of getting new football and baseball fields, new green stormwater tools, and improvements for the rec center building and adjacent play spaces, this site will feature a Mural Arts installation by artists Kien Nguyen and Katie Yamasaki.

Philly's Latest Green Schoolyard Project Breaks Ground in Fishtown

On Tuesday, February 21, the Philadelphia Water Department joined a broad group of partners, including Fishtown residents, parents, teachers and students from the Adaire School community, City departments, the School District of Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation and the nonprofit Trust for Public Land to break ground on Philadelphia’s latest green schoolyard project.

On hand were a number of public officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite, Council President Darrell Clarke and Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis.

If that list of names and organizations seems long, that’s because it is: to make projects like this a success, it takes an entire community and support from both the City and nonprofit institutions.

Don’t Be a Member of the Lonely Yards Club: Start Planning a Rain Check Project This February

There is still plenty of winter left to sign up for Rain Check, says this ground hog!

For those Philly residents feeling the winter blues, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t exactly bring hope and relief when he popped out of his den on Ground Hog Day and decided we’re in for six more weeks of cold weather.

But, before you resign and decide to join ol’ Phil in another month-and-half of hibernation, let us offer you an optimistic antidote.

Rather than thinking of this Ground Hog Day forecast as a longer winter, think of it as more time to get started on that spring landscaping project you’ve been putting off!

In February alone, we have eight free Rain Check workshops scheduled in neighborhoods all over the city, providing you with lots of opportunities to start planning a discounted warm-weather upgrade for your home.

With Rain Check, you can sign up to get a free rain barrel installed this spring—and then spend the rest of winter coming up with a fun DIY design that will make it yours.

Cayuga Triangle Rain Garden Completes a Circle of Green in Juniata Park

Pastor David Scudder at right and, at left, members of the community with PWD, Councilwoman Sanchez and TTF Watershed Partnership. Credit: PWD
 Members of the community with PWD, Councilwoman Sanchez and TTF Watershed Partnership. Credit: PWD

When we build the green tools that make Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program work, our engineers and planners are thinking about how much stormwater we can manage with a given rain garden, tree trench, planter or other green infrastructure system. Protecting local waterways and dealing with water from storms that can create pollution is a big part of what we do at the Philadelphia Water Department.

But we also like to highlight the way these green investments can benefit a community—raising neighborhood pride, adding beauty to our streets, providing little pockets of nature—in addition to managing stormwater.

At a ribbon cutting held in November for a rain garden along Castor Avenue in Juniata Park, we heard a story that reminded us what a little extra green can mean for the people living nearby.

‘Tis the Season for Sustainability: Get a Jump on Discounted Home Greening Projects

The Philadelphia Water Department wants residents to know they can save money on outdoor landscaping and other green projects by signing up for the Rain Check program—and now's a great time to get started.

Signing up for the program in the winter is a smart way to beat the spring rush and avoid longer wait times for projects like rain barrels, rain gardens, downspout planters and more. All you have to do to get set up ahead of the busy season for discounted spring greening projects is attend one of our upcoming free workshops

Depending on temperatures, some projects can even be completed over winter.
Rain Check is a program that helps Philadelphia residents save money on landscaping projects that capture stormwater. The program is funded by PWD and managed by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) in partnership with the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) of Greater Philadelphia. See some examples of Rain Check projects here.

Participation in the program surges during the spring and summer when residents are focused on gardening and other outside work. To encourage off-season participation, Rain Check is offering two new incentives during winter workshops:

Enter a Monthly Raffle for an Artistic Rain Barrel
Each month between now and February, Rain Check will give a specially wrapped rain barrel to one randomly selected participant. All residents have to do is attend a Rain Check workshop. Winners can choose from three designs created by Philadelphia student artists and the Mural Arts Program.

Refer a Friend for Flower Show Tickets
Past Rain Check participants who get Philadelphia residents to come to a Rain Check workshop by February 20 will have a chance to win two free tickets to this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show. Scheduled for March 11-19, this year’s show will highlight the rich horticultural offerings of Holland, and tickets at the door cost $35.

Those interested just have to spread the word about Rain Check and tell people to give their name when they register and attend a workshop. Check out the workshop schedule here and select a date and time that works for you.

Additional Rain Check workshops can also be scheduled at the request of community groups and other organizations by contacting Rosemary Howard at rhoward@pennhort.org or 215.988.8767.

How Rain Check Works
Rain Check is a Philadelphia Water Department program available to Philadelphia residents that helps people manage stormwater at home. Participants can get a free rain barrel and/or get a downspout planter, rain garden or permeable pavers installed at a reduced price.

Rain Check supports Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program, which is adding green features to neighborhoods across the City to keep excess stormwater out of sewers.

Since Rain Check started in 2012, nearly 3,500 residents have used the program to get a free rain barrel or discounted green project designed to manage stormwater runoff on their properties.

Participation from residents has led to hundreds of homes with features such as rain gardens, downspout planters filled with native plants, depaved yards, and driveways that can soak up rain thanks to permeable pavers. Because these projects help reduce pollution from stormwater runoff, PWD will contribute up to $2,000 toward improvements made through Rain Check.

Saving with Rain Check
Since the program’s start in June 2012, Rain Check participants have saved:

• $38,869 on depaving projects

• $171,832 on permeable pavers

• $88,438 on rain gardens

Over 3,000 residents have received free rain barrels and installation services, and more than 230 people used Rain Check to install garden planters connected to their downspouts at a cost of just $100.

Thinking About Going Green at Home with Rain Check? Here’s Why Now’s the Time

We’re going let you in on a little secret...

Fall and winter Rain Check workshops bring spring Rain Check projects!

While many think of spring and summer as the ideal time to do green improvements made easier through our Rain Check program—things like replacing a broken concrete pad with pretty permeable pavers or putting in a flower-filled downspout planter—there are some big advantages for those who sign up during the colder months.

Philadelphia Water Department Joins Community in Celebrating Washington Lane Rain Garden Managing Germantown’s Stormwater

The community well celebrate the completion of this rain garden, located at Clearview Street and Washington Lane, at 3 p.m. on Wednesday November 9. Credit: Philadelphia Water
The community well celebrate the completion of this rain garden, located at Clearview Street and Washington Lane, at 3 p.m. on Wednesday November 9. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Stormwater management never looked so good.

On Wednesday, November 9, community members, elected officials and watershed advocates will be gathering a few steps from the busy Washington Lane Station in Germantown to cut the ribbon at a newly upgraded green stormwater system that manages stormwater runoff from the station’s parking lot and surrounding streets.

Tour Two Point Breeze Vacant Lots Targeted for Green Improvements


The rendering at right shows a rain garden proposed for a vacant lot at 1900 Point Breeze Avenue. PWD will be touring this site and a second vacant lot on the 1700 block of Ringgold Street.

We kicked off October with a ribbon cutting at a formerly vacant lot at 55th and Hunter streets in West Philadelphia that is now a vibrant green space featuring a rain garden and hidden storage trench that manage stormwater and protect local waterways while adding a whole new asset to the neighborhood.

On October 18, we’ll be holding a walking tour at two sites in Point Breeze where similar rain gardens could bring flowers and plants to vacant lots, adding new green spaces to the area and helping to protect the local watershed. Join us at 5pm at 1701 Ringgold to start the tour:

This map shows where PWD will meet for the Oct. 18 vacant lot tour.

Photos and More: Big Celebration Welcomes New Rain Garden, Mural at Vacant Lot Site

We want to send out a big thank you to all who came out to celebrate the new rain gardens and mural in Hestonville yesterday! Below you’ll find photos from the event and coverage from local TV stations:

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