PHS

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.

‘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.

Urban Greening, Water Quality and Beer: Philadelphia Water at PHS’s South Street Pop Up Garden

As a part of ongoing efforts to showcase the success of Green City, Clean Waters over the last five years, we are partnering with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to host three nights of special events at the PHS Pop Up Garden at 15th and South Streets.

Baxter's Best, a beer brewed by Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. to highlight local water quality and the importance of protecting our rivers, will be on tap.

The garden opens to the public each evening at 5 p.m. with a full menu of food and drinks.
The fun will take place Monday, Sept. 12 through Wednesday, Sept. 14. See our event listings on Facebook + invite your friends: Facebook.com/PhillyH2O

Here’s what you can expect each evening:

What’s Going on with Green City, Clean Waters in South Philly West of Broad?

Point Breeze residents attend a Rain Check workshop and learn about local Green City, Clean Waters projects on Aug. 24, 2016.
Point Breeze residents attend a Rain Check workshop and learn about local Green City, Clean Waters projects on Aug. 24, 2016.

Last night, we highlighted some of our local Green City, Clean Waters projects at a Rain Check workshop in Point Breeze. Residents were able to sign up for a free rain barrel or take steps to get reduced-cost green tools for their home, including downspout planters and rain-absorbing pavement.

Amanda Krakovitz, a member of the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) program who is working with Philadelphia Water to engage communities around Green City, Clean Waters investments, provided information about area projects designed to improve local streets and parks while managing stormwater runoff.

For those who missed the meeting but want to learn about some of the local Green City, Clean Waters projects proposed or in the works, we’re providing a quick look at our South Philly projects west of Broad Street below.
You can also register for upcoming Rain Check workshops here.

Can a Vacant Lot Be Beautiful AND Work for Our Rivers and Streams? We Say Yes.


This map provides an overview of planned improvements at 55th and Hunter. Click the image for a larger version. Credit: Philadelphia Water. 

On Tuesday, we broke ground on a new project—our first official vacant lot site—that truly speaks to what the Green City, Clean Waters program is all about.

At its core, Green City, Clean Waters is about improving the water quality in our rivers and streams. But it’s also about improving our neighborhoods with green stormwater infrastructure that greens and beautifies communities. And it’s about forging partnerships with officials, other departments and government agencies, community groups, and non-profit organizations so that we can bring the benefits of Green City, Clean Waters to a diverse range of community improvement projects—from stormwater tree trenches added to routine sidewalk repairs to rain gardens that enhance schoolyard makeovers.

Our Heston Lot and Baker Playground project has all of those elements. Located in the in the city’s Hestonville neighborhood, the playground and adjacent vacant lot at 55th and Hunter streets has long been in the care of dedicated groups like the Hestonville Civic Association and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), which has maintained the lot through the LandCare program. But, three years ago, City Councilman Curtis Jones approached Philadelphia Water to see if we wanted to get involved in efforts to revamp Baker and make Heston Lot a more inviting, park-like space for the neighborhood.

Because we’re always looking for ways to expand the Green City, Clean Waters footprint, we jumped at the chance and set to work in designing green tools for the two sites. That was in 2012. Now, construction is underway, and we’re inviting the community to an Oct. 7 ground breaking celebration to learn more about what’s in store. Click Here For Event Details.

Councilman Jones is in the process of implementing Heston Lot improvements that include fresh sidewalks, a new gazebo with benches and a wheel chair access path. The City’s Department of Public Property, which owns the lot, helped raise funds for the gazebo. Across the street at Baker, Jones is working with and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to bring improvements that include sidewalk upgrades, a Mural Arts installation and new heater. PHS is also donating a post-and-rail fence for Heston Lot. In all, Jones’ office contributed $140,000 for the projects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also generously kicked in funding to help us with these projects and another nearby vacant land site.

To enhance those improvements and meet the stormwater management goals of Green City, Clean Waters, Philadelphia Water is building rain gardens and subsurface storage trenches at both sites. While the rain gardens will provide landscaped green space for the neighborhood, we’re upping the community beautification aspects of the project by working with Mural Arts to install a water-themed mural at Heston Lot. Designed by artists Eurhi Jones and Michael Reali, the colorful piece highlights neighborhood connections to the Schuylkill River and includes aquatic wildlife such as American shad, river otters and a heron. Reali will add textural dimension to Jones’ design, making some of the water elements sparkle and shine through the use of mosaic materials.

From an environmental perspective, the Heston Lot rain garden and storage trench will soak up and filter water from surrounding streets, and can hold 3,638 cubic feet of water. That’s equivalent to filling one SEPTA bus, 389 bathtubs, or leaving the faucet running for nearly 9.5 days! Across the street at Baker, that rain garden and storage trench will manage stormwater from 11,269 square feet of nearby impervious surfaces. The playground’s green tools have a stormwater storage capacity of 1,417 cubic feet, which is equivalent to 151 bathtubs of water or leaving a faucet running for over 88 hours. Combined, these sites provide the city with an additional 2.27 “greened acres”— that’s acres of impervious surface whose stormwater is now managed by Green City, Clean Waters tools.

While the actual green tools currently being built in Hestonville are pretty typical for Green City, Clean Waters, we’re excited about the potential to bring more green infrastructure projects like this to other vacant land sites in the city. The negative impact of vacant lots on communities is well documented. If we can work with partners to tackle the challenges of vacant lots through Green City, Clean Waters, we’re effectively delivering a one-two punch that knocks out blighted areas and turns them into valuable community green spaces that also help improve our rivers and streams.

Healthier rivers and streams. Greener, more beautiful neighborhoods. That’s what Green City, Clean Waters is all about, and the work underway at Heston Lot is shining example of what the program can achieve.

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