Green Streets

Lawncrest Residents Get Update on One of Philly’s Biggest Green Projects Yet

The map above shows the current plans proposed for the Lawncrest area.
The map above shows the current plans proposed for the Lawncrest area (click for larger image). Click here to see a detail of the green tools proposed for the Lawncrest Recreation Center. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Nearly 100 Northeast residents came out to a community meeting last week to get updates on what will likely be one of the biggest combined Green City, Clean Waters projects planned since the program began in 2011.

Held with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Lawncrest Recreation Center Advisory Council and the Tookany-Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, the March 7 meeting was organized by Philadelphia Water and focused on green stormwater improvements being designed for Lawncrest Rec and the surrounding area.

With over 80 green stormwater tools spread across the rec center and local streets, the proposed improvements will provide new landscaping and green space while vastly enhancing the area’s ability to manage the rain that falls on local roofs, streets and other hard surfaces during storms.

While this complex series of projects is still taking shape, the current designs would allow those green tools to manage about 978,000 gallons of water every time we get an inch of precipitation. In Philly, that kind of storm happens about 65 times per year—meaning the Lawncrest Green City, Clean Waters projects could keep as much as 63.5 million gallons of stormwater out of our sewers and streams annually when completed.

That’s like attaching 50-gallon rain barrels to the downspouts of 1.3 million homes. (!!!)

Bartram’s Mile Extends SRT — And Helps the Schuylkill River, Too

It’s official: Philadelphia students joined Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia Water and other partners in a Bartram’s Mile ground breaking ceremony on Nov. 23. Credit: Philadelphia Water
It’s official: Philadelphia students joined Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia Water and other partners in a Bartram’s Mile ground breaking ceremony on Nov. 23. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Bartram’s Mile—the first stretch of the Schuylkill River Trail to reach the river’s west bank within the city—is an exciting public-private partnership that will add a beautiful new mile-long greenway to the Schuylkill River.

Partners on the project, which broke ground on November 23, include Philadelphia Water, Parks and Recreation, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the William Penn Foundation and Bartram’s Garden.

You can read a good Philadelphia Magazine article on the new trail segment by clicking here but, in essence, Bartram’s Mile will follow the Schuylkill River from Grey’s Ferry Avenue to 56th Street and include a new pedestrian bridge connecting South and West Philly.

This exciting improvement is designed to bring many more residents and visitors to our waterfront, which is becoming more and more popular as our rivers become cleaner and more attractive. It will also provide easy access—a new gateway for pedestrians, cyclists and more—to some local gems like Bartram’s Garden, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, and John Heinz Wildlife Refuge.

Construction of the proposed “Schuylkill River Swing Bridge”—what the east-west connector is being called—could start as early as this summer and be complete by the end of 2017, according to Plan Philly.

And (as if creating a new green amenity for the city and providing a brand new way to access the waterfront isn’t cool enough!) this project will also fight stormwater pollution with an innovative green infrastructure “greenway” on three nearby streets.

Yorktown Green Streets Project Coming Soon

stormwater planter
Yorktown, a small residential neighborhood in North Philadelphia just south of Temple University (and once home to Gospel and Rock and Roll legend Sister Rosetta Tharpe!) will soon have one mile of bike lanes, two bus shelters, wider pedestrian islands, new ADA ramps and over 25 specially designed stormwater planters that will manage rainfall from the surrounding street. These upgrades are part of a project called Yorktown Green and Complete Streets, which emerged out of the planning process for Yorktown 2015, a five year action plan led by the Yorktown CDC.

PWD heard through this extensive planning process (over 260 residents participated!) that residents were particularly concerned with the maintenance of their unique, historic public spaces—a series of urban courtyard’s and cul-de-sac’s—and wanted to make them greener. Looking to invest in projects that not only manage stormwater but also improve the quality of life, PWD developed a project that would repair ADA ramps and install stormwater planters along 13th and 12th Streets. When the project proved too expensive to build, PWD began looking for grant opportunities to make the project more affordable.

In 2014, PWD expanded the project, committing to installing both bus shelters and extending bike lanes, and applied to both the Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation and of Community and Economic Development for funding from the Multimodal Trust Fund. Yorktown Green and Complete Streets was one of 86 winners awarded money from the $84 million dollar fund and received over $800,000 for the project.

With the additional funding, the Yorktown Green and Complete Streets project is slated to break ground sometime in summer/fall 2015. To learn more, check out Flying Kite’s recent article about the project.

And check out Sister Rosetta Tharpe! Sometimes called the “Godmother of Rock and Roll,” she sang gospel music accompanied by an electric guitar and influenced artists such as Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley. An historical marker notes her Yorktown residence at 11th and Master streets. 

We thought her song "Didn't It Rain" was most fitting for story!  

Green Streets Design Manual

The Philadelphia Water Department is proud to announce the release of its Green Streets Design Manual! The Philadelphia Water Department worked closely with the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, the Streets Department, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and other public utilities, partners and agencies to develop detailed design templates for green streets that are flexible and therefore may be applicable in a variety of settings.

As well as providing design standards and templates, the Green Streets Design manual also provides information on different GSI practices that are appropriate on various street typologies, and lays out the necessary design review and construction inspection processes.

With the release of the Green Streets Design Manual, design professionals, engineers, planners and developers will now be able to use approved design standards and procedures to further green street development in Philadelphia.

You can find the Green Streets Design Manual online at: 

NatLab Report Features Philadelphia as Laboratory for Green Infrastructure Finance

This rendering shows what private investment might do to help manage stormwater. Image: WRT.

Earlier this month, NatLab published Creating Clean Water Cash Flows, an in-depth report chock full of ideas for financing green infrastructure that features the Philadelphia Water Department.  As more and more cities invest in green stormwater infrastructure, financing these investments is fast becoming a hot topic. In a previous blog post, we discussed a spike in interest in private funding for new green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) tools. Now the 87 page report provides an in-depth analysis of ways to engage the private sector in green infrastructure investments.

The NatLab consortium including the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy and the investment firm EKO Asset Management Partners, collaborated with the Philadelphia Water Department on the report given the city’s status as a national leader in implementing green stormwater infrastructure. Although the recommendations focus on Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters plan, the information will be useful for cities across the country.

Engaging the private sector is critical for the successful implementation of Green City, Clean Waters. According to our Water Commissioner, Howard Neukrug, “Leveraging public-private partnerships can help transform and green our City water systems in a brilliantly cost-effective way.” Read the NatLab report to learn more about the innovative ideas Philadelphia is piloting to finance these investments.

NextCity also covered the report here.

Giving Thanks


In the spirit of the season, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) would like to extend its warmest thanks to its staff and multitude of partners that have officially launched Green City, Clean Waters this past year.  It has been a year full of excitement and major successes for the City of Philadelphia.  To commemorate our achievements, PWD is proud to share with you the2012 Green City, Clean Waters Year in Review .  We hope you enjoy the photojournalistic glimpse into the highlights of the past year, which have only been realized as a result of the countless hours of hard work and dedication of staff and our wonderful partners! We are grateful and thankful to you! Happy Turkey Day

New Video: Philadelphia's First Porous Street

Pass by the 800 block of tiny Percy Street near the Italian Market in South Philadelphia and you may not even notice that you're in the presence of Philadelphia's first street to be retrofitted with porous paving. Check out the new video from GreenTreks to learn about the design, construction and functionality of Percy Street's porous paving. It's just one of the many green infrastructure tools that PWD is using to soak up stormwater before it can enter our sewer system and cause overflows into our rivers and streams.

Life Imitates Art: Green City, Clean Waters Art Contest Ceremony and a Green Grant for Nebinger School

Come out to the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center today at 4:00 as we congratulate the winners of the 2012 Green City, Clean Waters art contest. More than 700 entries were received this year, as students illustrated the various ways in which our local waterways become polluted, and how we can work together to make them healthy. First-place drawings such as the one by Liana Spiro of Germantown Friends School (above) will be used in a year-round advertising campaign on buses and subways. View all the winners of the drawing and video contests here. Congratulations to the winners, and special thanks to our friends at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary for organizing this contest.

But that's not all—in a case of life imitating art, students' depictions of how we restore our waterways will become a reality at George W. Nebinger Elementary School. The school, located at 6th and Carpenter streets in South Philadelphia, will be the center of an international model for green stormwater management and educational programming. Green infrastructure tools in the schoolyard (possibilities include porous play surfaces, rain gardens and stormwater planters) and on nearby streets will serve as an outdoor classroom and laboratory for the school's students. This project is a collaboration between the Philadelphia Water Department, the U.S. EPA and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary in tandem with the School District of Philadelphia. More details to come!

Help PWD Green Your Neighborhood: Submit a Project Idea for Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Your Community

Do you want to improve your neighborhood and protect our creeks and rivers? Does your community have a school, recreation center, park, or other public space available within the City limits for a green stormwater management project? The Philadelphia Water Department wants your ideas on where to implement stormwater bumpouts, tree trenches, rain gardens and other green infrastructure. PWD seeks to partner with communities across Philadelphia as part of our Green City, Clean Waters program. Submit your project idea through our new Community Input for Green Stormwater Infrastructure form.

Some examples of sites that could meet project requirements include vacant lots, traffic triangles, community gardens, parks and schools. (Pictured above is a stormwater management project at Greenfield Elementary—watch the Greening Greenfield video.) Get more information, get involved and get started!

East Falls: You've Got Stormwater Bumpouts

Pop Quiz! A Stormwater Bumpout is: 

a)  The name of a wizard in the Harry Potter books
b)  An obscure '70s prog-rock band
c)  A vegetated curb extension that manages runoff by infiltrating water into the soil, thereby helping to prevent combined sewer overflows into our rivers and streams

Obviously, it's c). You can see a stormwater bumpout up close and personal tomorrow, April 5 at 4:30 at Queen Lane and Foxt Street in East Falls. Philadelphia's first bumpouts were installed at Queen Lane (pictured above) as part of the Green City, Clean Waters plan to manage stormwater through green infrastructure. PWD's Soak It Up! crew will be on hand with free refreshments, art activities, yarn graffiti, flower bulb plantings and more. 

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