Ambitious Proposal Could Mean Big Improvements for Morris Park, Local Water Quality

Philadelphia Water is looking for residents to provide feedback tonight on designs for a pretty impressive green infrastructure project at Papa Playground in Morris Park that aims to improve the area’s stormwater management and urban habitat while reducing combined sewer overflows that can spill polluted water into our rivers and streams:

The map above outlines some of the proposed improvements at Morris Park in Overbrook. Click for a larger image.
The map above outlines some of the proposed improvements at Morris Park in Overbrook. Click for a larger image.

The design for improvements that will be presented at Papa Rec Center tonight at 6:30 p.m. are for a project that disconnects several streets in the Overbrook neighborhood from the City’s combined sewer system, sending clean water to the adjacent park’s creek. As part of the Green City, Clean Waters program, this collaboration with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department and the Department of Public Property adds natural landscaping to the park while taking pressure off the combined sewer system.

Stormwater will be kept out of the combined sewers, which can spill sewage and polluted water into waterways when the wastewater treatment plants are overwhelmed.

The projects feature several distinct (and quite big!) rain gardens that will retain stormwater from local streets, the park and the rec center rooftop. Overall, the project improvements would take about 4.3 acres of drainage area off the main combined sewer system.

Four acres might not seem like much to some, but in terms of stormwater, that means the green facilities at the site will be able to capture, treat and release as much as 308,000 gallons of cleaned stormwater to the adjacent Indian Creek. That’s the same as about 6,200 homes with rain barrels or running your faucet for 105 straight days!

Park improvements will also include minor adjustments to the grading (work that’s intended to improve on-site drainage), an effort to improve lighting in shaded, dark areas and new plantings. Philadelphia Water representatives have been working closely with the surrounding community and partners to address concerns about impacts to park, and that input will be reflected in the final plans.

“The Morris Park design is a compelling project that showcases how successful collaborative design sparks one-of-a-kind solutions that have significant impacts on the surrounding community,” says Ben Clements, the Philadelphia Water engineer managing the Morris Park green infrastructure improvements. “This particular project will reduce energy demand on wastewater treatment plants, help reduce the number of combined sewer overflows, and add beautiful, functioning, and environmentally sound features to the park.”

The project is part of ongoing efforts to improve the health of Cobbs Creek, including the Indian Creek Daylighting Project that was completed last year.

Want to learn more about this fascinating Green City, Clean Waters proposal for Papa Playground and Morris Park and provide feedback?
Please join Philadelphia Water and the Parks and Recreation department at the Papa Playground Recreation Center (6839 Lansdowne Ave.) on Monday, March 7 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For more information, contact local outreach specialist Abby Sullivan at Abby.Sullivan@phila.gov