Green Stormwater Infrastructure

GSI Partners Offer Green Jobs Training Opportunity


A rain garden at the Philadelphia Zoo represents one of the hundreds of privately operated green stormwater management sites in the city. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Creating a green economy—jobs and services rooted in environmental sustainability—isn’t just a nice side effect resulting from Green City, Clean Waters. Green jobs and their economic benefits were a driving force in Philadelphia Water’s decision to develop a green infrastructure solution to our stormwater management challenges.

Helping to meet the demand for green jobs created by our 25-year green infrastructure plan is the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia’s (SBN) Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Partners group, an independent non-profit “network of industry professionals working to advance the local green stormwater infrastructure industry and innovation in the Greater Philadelphia region.”

GSI Partners is currently accepting applications for a three-day course designed to provide training for professionals interested in learning about how to take care of the ever-growing stock of green stormwater infrastructure in Philadelphia.

With over 1,100 green tools already in place to support Green City, Clean Waters, there’s a real demand for landscape contractors with the skills needed to perform crucial operations and maintenance tasks. That demand will grow considerably as our $2.4 billion plan expands over the next two decades.

This course will provide valuable training to help meet that demand. Here’s a description of the curriculum from GSI Partners:

This three-day course is for landscape professionals seeking to strengthen or develop their service portfolio in operations and maintenance of public and private green stormwater infrastructure projects. The course features two classroom days and one field day, and will provide landscape contractors with an understanding of the importance of operations and maintenance (O+M) of vegetated stormwater management practices, as well as of the tasks involved. The course will cover 16 sections in total, including: Regulatory context for O+M; Identification and understanding of the components of SMP’s; Diagnosis of and response to performance and safety issues; Adaptive and prescriptive management activities.

Space is limited, and the course will take place on three separate days (August 21, 28 and September 4) at the Navy Yard. The cost is $350 per person.

GSI Partners’ Continuing Education Grants will be available to eligible GSI Partners and SBN members interested in taking the course.
To sign up for the course and apply for a grant, please visit the GSI Partners site by clicking here.

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)

Starting Today: New Stormwater Regulations Bring Healthier Rivers

Philadelphia's new website for Stormwater Regulations planning and review. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Philadelphia's new website for Stormwater Regulations planning and review. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

For two years, we’ve been working to update our Stormwater Regulations and Plan Review Program.

Now, the changes are finally here.

From July 1, 2015 forward, development in the city is required to follow updated Stormwater Regulations.

These updates represent the most substantial changes to the regulations in nearly a decade. They ensure new development works alongside Philadelphia Water’s Green City, Clean Waters plan by requiring new sites to handle more water, slow stormwater more effectively, and release cleaner water into our sewers.

In doing all of that, the new regulations also encourage more robust use of green infrastructure across the city.

While we were working to create modernized regulations, we also went to great lengths to make the Plan Review process easier from start to finish by listening to the business community and other stakeholders.

The result is an improved, faster process for submitting and reviewing stormwater plans and a new website that makes our Stormwater Regulations Guidance Manual more accessible. At PWDPlanreview.org, users will find a fully searchable, shareable guide and other helpful tools for making sure stormwater plans reflect the new regulations and align with Philadelphia’s vision for a modern stormwater system.

Together, Philadelphia Water and the development community are working to make sure we all have a future defined by smart growth and healthier rivers and streams.

Want to learn more? Public information sessions will be held July 9th and 23rd from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Municipal Services Building, 1401 JFK Blvd. Click here to register.

Stormwater Regulations Update: Learn About Some Important Changes


A green roof on the Granary Building that was built in part to meet Philadelphia Water's Stormwater Regulations. Changes to the regulations are designed to encourage even more private green infrastructure projects. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Every time something new gets built in Philadelphia, it presents an opportunity to improve the way we deal with stormwater runoff—a big source of pollution that hurts our waterways, but often gets overlooked as “just rain.”

In order to make sure new development contributes to Philadelphia’s vision for a modern stormwater system that protects our rivers and creeks, we have a set of standards—collectively called Stormwater Regulations—that let developers know how their property should handle the water that comes from rainstorms and other wet weather events.

It’s been nearly a decade since we established our Stormwater Regulations in 2006, and starting July 1, 2015, new construction projects will have updated rules for managing stormwater. These changes reflect evolving agreements between Philadelphia and the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection, (the state agency that regulates our local waterways), and the EPA.

In order to make sure the development community and the public are fully aware of our updated Stormwater Regulations, we’re holding a series of public information sessions. If you’re interested in learning more—especially if you’ll be working on a new construction project—you should click here and register to hear more details about the changes.

The information sessions are scheduled for June 23rd and 30th and July 9th and 23rd from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and will be held in the Municipal Services Building, 1401 JFK Blvd.

Stormwater management on development sites is critical to the success of Green City, Clean Waters. Since 2011, private developers have built over 900 green stormwater management tools in the city, and the new regulations will provide incentives for even more.

Quick Read: What the Changes Mean

Water Quality Improvements

Manage more water. The Water Quality Volume will increase from 1 inch to 1.5 inches. This will help reduce combined sewer overflows and local flooding, with minimal impact to site design. Applies to all development sites.

Slow water entering sewers. The peak release rate will decrease from 0.24 to 0.05 cubic feet per second per acre of non-infiltrating impervious area. This will make the rate at which water leaves a site and enters the sewer system equal to the rate at which treatment plants can clean the water. Applies to about 23 percent of projects each year.

Clean water entering sewers. Philadelphia Water will require 100 percent of surface runoff that can’t infiltrate the ground to go through a pollutant reducing practice. This requirement will remove pollution from the dirtiest stormwater on a property. Applies to about 23 percent of projects each year.

Business-Friendly Improvements:

Faster project approvals. Philadelphia Water is introducing “Surface Green Review,” a new expedited review process for sites that use surface practices to manage stormwater.

Simpler application resources. Simplified technical worksheets and Plan Review application resources will improve the quality of submissions and reduce review times. By using these resources, designers will know before submitting that their projects meet regulations.

Accessible information. The new digital Stormwater Management Guidance Manual and Plan Review website will provide better information in a user-friendly format.

 

 

 

Fresh Tools for a Greener City: Retrofit Guide, New App

A look at our new Credits Explorer tool, which lets anyone explore the benefits of GSI.
A look at our new Credits Explorer tool, which lets anyone explore the benefits of GSI.

In response to rapidly growing interest from non-residential customers, Philadelphia Water is proud to present the Stormwater Retrofit Guidance Manual. The 186-page manual is designed for those customers poised to benefit the most from adding cost-saving green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to their buildings and grounds. Bringing this customer base into Philadelphia’s green movement is a key part of Green City, Clean Waters, Philadelphia Water’s 25-year plan to protect and enhance our watersheds by managing stormwater with innovative green infrastructure. 

The start-to-finish guide to GSI retrofits includes a detailed breakdown of credits and incentives offered through Philadelphia Water’s Green Acres Retrofit Program (GARP) and Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP), instructions for picking the best GSI tools by property, ongoing GSI maintenance requirements, and much more.    

As a digital complement to the Stormwater Retrofit Guidance Manual, Philadelphia Water is also releasing Credits Explorer, a groundbreaking new app that allows anyone to virtually add GSI tools to non-residential properties and instantly see potential savings. A variety of stakeholders informed the 18-month effort behind Credits Explorer, resulting in a user-friendly web-based tool making it easier than ever to see the financial benefits of GSI features like green roofs and permeable pavement. The manual and Credits Explorer can be accessed here

These tools work in conjunction with Philadelphia Water’s innovative Stormwater Billing program, which bills non-residential customers based on the amount of impermeable surface on their property.  Implemented in 2010, Philadelphia’s stormwater charges more accurately reflect the true infrastructure and environmental costs associated with impermeable surfaces and provide Philadelphia Water with capital to fund improvements required by state and federal regulations.

Any property is eligible to pursue and install retrofits; however, only non-residential, condominium, and multi-family properties with more than four units are eligible to receive stormwater credits.

Study Shows Evidence of “Triple Bottom Line” Effects of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Water Fact Infographic

When we started the 25-year, $2.4 billion Green City, Clean Waters plan in 2011, the idea was that we could better manage our stormwater and reduce combined sewer overflows by leading with green infrastructure, as opposed to only using gray infrastructure, and that it would also have additional social and economic benefits. We call it our “triple bottom line" approach. While the environmental benefits (good news—we’re on track to meet our environmental targets for year five of the plan!) and economic benefits are quantifiable, the social benefits are harder to measure. But a recent study, published this January in the American Journal of Public Health, indicates that the green stormwater infrastructure we’ve installed in Philadelphia does, indeed, have social benefits as well.

The study, led by Michelle Kondo, formerly a postdoctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and now a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service in Philadelphia, looked at 52 green stormwater projects in Philadelphia and found consistent and statistically significant reductions in narcotic possession and manufacture, as well as burglaries near those sites.  

These impressive results caught the eye of the Inquirer’s Sandy Bauers, who featured the study in her regular GreenSpace column

[Kondo] and her colleagues, including Penn epidemiologist Charles Branas, who had studied vacant lots, compared the 52 sites with 186 similar areas where projects were planned but not yet built. They factored in socioeconomic data from the census, crime statistics, and health data.

Their results, published in January in the American Journal of Public Health, were an eyebrow-raiser. Between 2000 and 2012, incidents of drug possession at the project sites dropped by as much as 27 percent compared with the control sites.

As far as a half-mile away, "we saw a significant reduction," Kondo said.

The study controlled for a number of other factors—gentrification, general improvements in quality of life, etc.—that had occurred over the 12 years of the study and yielded a strong positive correlation between the presence of a Green City, Clean Waters project and incidents of drug possession. 

Clearly, there’s still more studying to be done so we can determine links to other improvements in overall quality of life measures and reductions in crime, but these initial results are very promising! Studies like this help demonstrate the return on investment for each individual green infrastructure project and that the triple bottom line approach is truly paying off! 

A Greener Hackett Elementary Brings Excitement to the Neighborhood


Proposed view of Hackett schoolyard by the Community Design Collaborative

Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School is lucky to have a large schoolyard—nearly an acre of land in the middle of the city—but many people describe it as a “sea of pavement.” As it stands, the schoolyard is almost completely covered in asphalt but will soon transform into a lush green space with benefits for students, the neighboring communities and the environment. Many community members are excited that their kids will have green space to play in and teachers look forward to expanding their curriculum to include the outside environment.

This project demonstrates the power of partnerships and community involvement. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), School District of Philadelphia, Friends of Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School, and the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), and volunteers from the Community Design Collaborative (CDC) worked together on a master plan for the schoolyard that integrates green stormwater infrastructure.

The schoolyard will be outfitted with green stormwater infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff through PWD’s  Green City, Clean Waters plan. The site will be equipped with a rain garden and underground retention basins that will soak up rainwater, filter it and keep it out of the combined sewer system.

Using green stormwater infrastructure at the Hackett School is just one part of the schoolyard revitalization plan. It also includes play and fitness equipment, shade trees, murals, an outdoor classroom, and amenities such as customized swings, accessible ramps and walkways for wheelchairs and students with specialized needs.

Philadelphia Water Department will implement the green stormwater infrastructure elements. To jumpstart the project on the community side, the School leadership and the Friends of Hackett organize work days and are currently raising funds to realize the rest of the plan. You can donate to their cause on their website: http://friendsofhackett.weebly.com

To read more about this project and see pictures of the site, check out this Philadelphia Neighborhoods article Kensington: A Greener Schoolyard for Hackett Elementary.

The Wharton Street Lofts Incorporates a Green Roof


There is more than meets the eye in South Philadelphia. Wharton Street Lofts, formerly known as the Annunciation School, is offering the tenants of its 45 apartments an extra amenity - a green roof deck. Open to all residents, these green roof tops were made possible via a partnership created through PWD’s Green City, Clean Waters. Developer, Leo Addimando. was awarded a grant through PWD’s Stormwater Management Incentive Program (SMIP). Administered jointly with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), this innovative program provides grants to non-residential PWD customers to support investments in green stormwater infrastructure. In addition to the building’s green roof, the developer has incorporated a rain garden in the parking lot, as well as two subsurface infiltration beds, and street trees.

To learn more about the SMIP program and how your business can more effectively manage stormwater, please, Click Here.  

Summer Internship in GSI Implementaion Program

Apply now for a Summer 2013 Internship in our Green Stormwater Infrastructure Implementation Program!



photo credit: Paul Rider


Seeking highly qualified students for experiences in the following academic departments: Landscape Architecture, Engineering, Engineering Technician, Planning, Urban Design


Description: Interns will work closely with Green Stormwater Infrastructure Implementation Program Staff. This group executes both planning and design coordination for GSI projects on public lands such as vacant lands, schools, parks, streets, parking lots, and facilities.


To learn more about the position and apply, click here.


Applications are due this Thursday, February 28th!

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