District Update

Northeast Residents Learn About New Green Sites

How a tree trench works. Click for more.
This diagram shows how a tree trench like the one planned for Moss Park collects and filters water before slowly releasing it into the ground. Click for more info.

Philadelphia Water held two community meetings in the Northeast in late August to talk about upcoming Green City, Clean Waters projects. Both projects will bring green infrastructure tools that manage stormwater to neighborhood recreation areas—the Max Myers Playground at Busleton and Magee avenues and Moss Park at Torresdale and Cheltenham avenues.

The Max Myers meeting was held Aug. 21 and covered plans for improvements to the park area and nearby streets that include two rain gardens and a stormwater storage basin beneath an existing baseball diamond. In addition to managing stormwater from the surrounding streets to address sewer overflows, the rain gardens will beautify the park with landscaping that includes plants and shrubs. Park users will also get a brand-new baseball diamond after the storage basin is complete.

Philadelphia Parks and Recreation is a partner for both projects, and Take Back Your Neighborhood, Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez and Councilman Bobby Henon helped spread word about the Max Myers meeting.

The Moss Park meeting was held Aug. 24, and current plans include managing stormwater from nearby streets through the use of a tree trench featuring 16 new trees. As currently planned, the project will include replacing a weathered sidewalk along Ditman Street. The Moss improvements also include two new rain gardens, a new path, and an underground stormwater storage basin.
The Aug. 24 meeting was held with the help of Councilman Henon, Parks and Recreation, and the Wissinoming Civic Association.

Because the projects are still in the early planning phase, these meetings focused on getting feedback from residents and potential construction start dates aren’t yet available. Stay tuned at Phillywatersheds.org for more updates and look for invites for the next round of meetings about this project.

Community Meeting for Lanier Park Stormwater Improvements

You’re invited! Come out to Grays Ferry to learn about an upcoming construction project at Lanier Playground.

Located at 29th and Tasker streets, Lanier Playground has been selected by Philadelphia Water for a stormwater management project that will soak up stormwater runoff and restore the baseball field.

Please join us Thursday, Sept. 10 (rain or shine) from 6– 7 p.m. at the Universal Audenried High School Auditorium (3301 Tasker Street) to learn more about the project and what you can expect during construction. Refreshments will be served.

This project is part of Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program which works to improve the health of our local rivers. By storing rain water under the park and then letting it soak into the ground through natural processes, we can help keep the Schuylkill River clean. Philadelphia Water’s construction work will start before the overall Lanier Playground Improvement Project planned by Parks and Recreation, the Trust for Public Land, Philadelphia Water, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s Office and the community.

Click on the image below for larger version of our community meeting flyer for this event:

Meeting Flyer for Lanier Playground.

New and Improved Ralph Brooks Park Manages Stormwater with Green Tools

Top: City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles and others cut the ribbon to open Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. Bottom: A new rain garden stretches along the basketball courts, which sit atop a storage trench that will hold stormwater. The rain garden will be filled with plants next month. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Top: City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles and others cut the ribbon to open Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. Bottom: A new rain garden stretches along the basketball courts, which sit atop a storage trench that holds stormwater. The rain garden will be filled with plants next month. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

After three years of fundraising, planning, design, and construction, the Point Breeze community officially welcomed a tremendously improved Ralph Brooks Park at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday.

The project was made possible through the collaboration of several city and state agencies, Pa. State Representative Jordan Harris, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, the non-profit groups Urban Roots, Mural Arts, PHS, Philly Rising, 25th Century Foundation, Tasker Street Baptist Church and the Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB), founded by Philadelphia Eagles player Connor Barwin.

That broad coalition allowed for a complete renovation of this public space, with improvements covering everything from new playground equipment and basketball courts to a community garden and green stormwater features that add to Philadelphia Water’s Green City, Clean Waters infrastructure.

The stormwater features include a rain garden at the southern end of the park, and an underground storage trench beneath the basketball courts along the western edge of the park. Combined, those green tools can manage over 16,000 gallons of stormwater—it would take 320 homes with rain barrels to store that much stormwater runoff—and the trees, shrubs and other plants add to the beauty of Ralph Brooks Park. While the ribbon cutting featured plants donated by Bartram’s Garden, the actual vegetation for the site will be planted in October, which will give the plants a better chance to become established and thrive.

“This partnership demonstrates that green infrastructure projects can manage stormwater and enhance community efforts to improve and beautify public spaces,” Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug said of the project.

More: See Photos From the Ralph Brooks Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Other speakers at the event included Mayor Nutter and Barwin, who raised $170,000 for the project through a benefit concert. Philadelphia Water contributed approximately $152,000 to the project.

The Ralph Brooks renovations are part of Green City, Clean Waters’ Green Parks program, which works with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to leverage resources for park improvements and bring green stormwater tools to park sites.

Philadelphia Water is also working with partners from the Ralph Brooks project to bring similar improvements to Smith Playground in the West Passyunk neighborhood. Green infrastructure improvements at Smith are scheduled to begin construction next summer.

Good (Green) News for a Riverwards Gem


Above: A map showing the planned location of four new green stormwater tools in Harrowgate Park. Click for a larger image. Source: Philadelphia Water.

Harrowgate’s green jewel—a public square located at Kensington Avenue and E. Tioga Street—is about to get a little greener thanks to a new project from Green City, Clean Waters.

Given Harrowgate Park was (according to Wikipedia lore, at any rate) named after an English spa resort in the 1780s as a tribute to the area’s healthy spring waters, it’s fitting that the coming improvements for this Riverwards greenspace will once again make this a place where water flows more naturally.

About 50 residents at a meeting of the newly formed Harrowgate Civic Association learned about plans for four new rain gardens, which will use plants and natural landscapes to slow and filter stormwater from nearby streets, during a presentation from Philadelphia Water earlier this month. The goal of the green tools is to reduce excess rainwater from entering sewers, where overflows end up putting harmful sewage into our rivers.

The current Harrowgate Park schedule calls for construction of the rain garden infrastructure to begin this winter, followed by plant installations in the spring. Shrubs and flowers selected for the site include red twig dogwood, Japanese holly, black-eyed susan and echinacea. Work should wrap up in summer 2016.

The project, which will also include tree pruning and removal of a dead tree near the northwest edge of the park, was first selected for Green City, Clean Waters’ Green Parks program in 2012 and has been made possible by working alongside Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.

Related: What’s a Rain Garden, and How Do They Work?

Community Gets Updates on North Phila. Green Improvements

This illustration shows how stormwater tree trenches, an important tool in the Green City, Clean Waters plan, work. Plans are under way to install these tools in the neighborhood around Fotterall Square and Vandergrift/Danny Boyle Park. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
This illustration shows how stormwater tree trenches, an important tool in the Green City, Clean Waters plan, work. Plans are under way to install these tools in the neighborhood around Fotterall Square and Vandergrift/Danny Boyle Park. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

The Hope Partnership for Education and other community members in North Philadelphia got an update on Green City, Clean Waters improvements planned for their area during the Hope Community Day celebration on Saturday, July 25.

The event, held with the help of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), the Community Design Collaborative, Temple University, the 22nd Police District and Youthbuild Philadelphia Charter School, shed light on a number of initiatives to improve the community.

Philadelphia Water gave an update on the city-wide Green City, Clean Waters plan, which was introduced in 2011, and presented plans to install green stormwater tools around Fotterall Square, Vandergrift/Danny Boyle Park, and nearby streets. Because the improvements will impact the park, we’re working closely with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to make this plan a success.

Designs for the local improvements began to take shape in January, 2015 and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. As this was the very first Hope Community Day, we were very proud to be a part of the festivities and were excited to see so much interest in greening projects.

The plans discussed on July 25 currently call for creating stormwater tree trenches in the following locations:

• Cumberland Street from 12th to 11th

• 12th Street from York to Cumberland

• York Street from 12th to 11th

• 11th Street from York to Cumberland

• Cumberland Street from 11th to 10th

• York Street from 10th to 9th

• Cumberland Street from Germantown Avenue to 9th Street

• 9th Street from Germantown Avenue to Cumberland

• York Street from 9th to Germantown Avenue

• Susquehanna Avenue from Franklin to 7th Street

• York Street from 8th Street to 7th Street

As a part of the presentation, members of the community learned how the tree trenches will help reduce sewer overflows by taking in stormwater during rain or snow storms and slowly releasing into the ground.
The project will also include a rain garden or infiltration basin at Vandergrift/Danny Boyle Park, located at York Street and Germantown Avenue, which will further help to reduce stormwater that may overwhelm sewers.

Thanks again to Hope for hosting the event and to everyone who came out! Philadelphia Water will continue to update the community as the plan moves forward, and we’ll post information about progress here on the Philly Watersheds blog.

Improvements to Address Northern Liberties Flooding

Northern Liberties flooding that occured after a July 9 downpour. Credit: Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.
Northern Liberties flooding that occurred after a July 9 downpour. Credit: Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.

After yet another heavy rainstorm last week, a section of Northern Liberties experienced localized flooding as result of an overwhelmed stormwater system.

This area contains the historic Cohocksink Creek and is the focus of a long-term infrastructure improvement project. Traditional sewer expansion and green stormwater tools will improve the capacity of the local system while reducing the amount of water entering sewers.

Philadelphia Water is aware of last week's flooding and on-going issues, and we're working with the community to address immediate concerns as we implement a plan to improve conditions in the long haul.
You can see a summary of plans to address flooding in the vicinity of Wildey and N. American streets here and here.

Impacted residents are also encouraged to attend a community meeting on the Northern Liberties Storm Flood Relief Program. Philadelphia Water representatives will discuss flood reduction efforts at the South Kensington Neighborhood Association,1301 N. 2nd St., on Tuesday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Stress on the Sewers: Is June Philly's New Monsoon?

The July 9 storm dumped nearly an inch of rain in just under 10 minutes—the heaviest of the month so far—and came at a time when the Delaware River was at its highest tide level.

It’s been a rather wet summer so far, and that means additional stress for stormwater infrastructure. After a historically dry May, June made up for it with a vengeance. Only two years have seen a wetter June in the city, according to records dating to 1872.

The wettest June ever was in 2013, followed by 1938 and 2015 with 8.88 inches. The National Weather Service lists June’s rain average as 3.43 inches.

It’s all part of a trend that has seen six of the rainiest Junes EVER occur in the city in just the last dozen years:

June 2013: 10.36 (1st)

June 2015: 8.88 (3rd)

June 2003: 8.08 (4th)

June 2006: 7.95 (6th)

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