green infrastructure

Philly's Latest Green Schoolyard Project Breaks Ground in Fishtown

On Tuesday, February 21, the Philadelphia Water Department joined a broad group of partners, including Fishtown residents, parents, teachers and students from the Adaire School community, City departments, the School District of Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation and the nonprofit Trust for Public Land to break ground on Philadelphia’s latest green schoolyard project.

On hand were a number of public officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite, Council President Darrell Clarke and Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis.

If that list of names and organizations seems long, that’s because it is: to make projects like this a success, it takes an entire community and support from both the City and nonprofit institutions.

Nominations Wanted: 2017 'Excellence in GSI Awards'

Students and parents cut the ribbon at Lea Elementary in 2016 to celebrate the completion of a schoolyard featuring three rain gardens, nearly two dozen new trees and porous paving and play surfaces. Funded largely through a $242,000 SMIP grant from PWD, the project won the Public Project Award at the 2016 Excellence in GSI Awards ceremony. Credit: PWD
Students and parents cut the ribbon at Lea Elementary in 2016 to celebrate the completion of a schoolyard featuring three rain gardens, nearly two dozen new trees and porous paving and play surfaces. Funded largely through a $242,000 SMIP grant from PWD, the project won the Public Project Award at the 2016 Excellence in GSI Awards ceremony. Credit: PWD 

What projects and people are making an impact on green stormwater infrastructure in our region?

Last year saw the first-ever Excellence in GSI Awards, an effort by the Sustainable Business Network’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Partners to answer that question and highlight the best in local green stormwater projects and the people making them happen.

The Philadelphia Water Dept. was honored to have associations with to two of 2016’s five award winners: retired PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug took home the inaugural Leadership in GSI Award for his role in guiding the creation of the City’s 25-year Green City, Clean Waters program, and West Philadelphia’s Lea Elementary received the Public Project Award for green schoolyard renovations made with the help of a PWD Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) grant.

City Career Fair and Courses for Contractors Provide Job Opportunities

Are you looking for a new career? Know someone in Philly looking for a job?

This Friday, December 2, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., representatives from nearly two dozen municipal agencies (including PWD!) will be at the Community College of Philadelphia (17th and Spring Garden Street) to talk to you about current job opportunities with the City of Philadelphia Government.

The event is free and open to all, but registration is required. You can register at the door or here. More information about the event is available here.

Help us spread the word by sharing this information with your neighbors and friends!

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.

Get Wild about Watersheds, Urban Greening and West Philly Nature

Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly takes residents on a nature walk highlighting wildlife and green infrastructure around Papa Playground in West Philadelphia. Join Philadelphia Water and Wild West Philly for special nature walk on June 25. Photo Credit: Joe Piette
Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly takes residents on a nature walk highlighting wildlife and green infrastructure around Papa Playground in West Philadelphia. Join Philadelphia Water and Wild West Philly for special nature walk on June 25. Photo Credit: Joe Piette

Philadelphia Water is all about helping people understand the ways in which our lives and communities are intimately connected to the local waterways that sustain us.

We know—living in a big city like Philadelphia, it can be easy to forget that we’re still a part of a natural world that includes waterways like the Cobbs Creek and Delaware River. Luckily, we have lots of residents who care about nature and want to learn more.

That’s why we’re teaming up with Naturalist Interpreter Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly (one of our watershed partnership groups) for a special walk on Saturday, June 25 at the historic Mt. Moriah Cemetery, much of which has been reclaimed by nature. (RSVP for this free event here.)

SMIP: It's How We Empower People to Invest in Philly's Neighborhoods and Rivers

What are people saying about our Stormwater Pioneer? Watch this:

Last Tuesday, November 17th, Deputy Commissioner Chris Crockett joined Mayor Michael Nutter, City Councilmen Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla and local business and community leaders to celebrate Popi’s Italian Restaurant and co-owner Gina Rucci as Philadelphia’s 2015 Stormwater Pioneer.

Rucci successfully leveraged a $94,860 grant through Philadelphia Water’s Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) to create two rain gardens that reduced her stormwater bill by 60 percent while adding attractive landscaping to the restaurant parking lot.

Noting that the rain gardens have been a big hit with her customers and that they will help protect Philadelphia’s drinking water for future generations, Rucci urged other business to take advantage of the grant program.

Stormwater Pioneer: Business Makes Smart Move, Helps Our Rivers

Popi's co-owner Gina Ricci talks about why using a SMIP grant to build rain gardens in the restaurant parking lot was such a smart financial move. Credit: Philadelphia Water
Popi's co-owner Gina Rucci used a SMIP grant to build rain gardens in the restaurant parking lot, and says it was a smart financial move. Credit: Philadelphia Water

For the past 20 years, Popi’s Italian Restaurant has been a beloved fixture in its South Philadelphia community, building a stellar reputation for excellent cuisine in a family-friendly setting. Recently, co-owner Gina Rucci made a smart business move that we’re excited to celebrate. Rucci used over $94,000 from Philadelphia Water to improve her property and neighborhood, all while lowering her stormwater bill by 60 percent. That means the $5,000 investment she contributed will pay for itself in less than two years.

App Solution: Civic Hackers Create Mobile App for Green Infrastructure


Volunteers at Apps for Philly Sustainability use data provided by Philadelphia Water to work on the new Big Green App project. Credit: Matthew Fritch, Philadelphia Water.

By Matthew Fritch for the
Watersheds Blog


Last week, Philadelphia Water released a treasure trove of data in advance of Apps for Philly Sustainability, a three-day event that brought together sustainability professionals and technologists. Their mission? Conquer the city's problems with code. Armed with datasets and digital know-how, teams of students and tech professionals developed apps to help the homeless find resources, assist students with learning disabilities, and track individual energy consumption. (See more details on the various projects here.)

But the project we're most excited about is a Big Green App (hat tip to the Big Green Map).

Christmas in October: 'Apps for Philly Sustainability' Gets Lots of Water Data to Play With

This map, viewable on the City of Philadelphia's website, show green infrastructure locations and was made using similar data sets.
This map, viewable on the City of Philadelphia's website, shows green infrastructure locations and was made using similar data sets.

In anticipation of Code for Philly's Oct. 16-18 “Apps for Philly Sustainability” meet-up, Philadelphia Water and other City agencies released tons of data for the super-tech savvy crowd to tinker with.

Our hope is this creative community of app-building enthusiasts will come up with new tools that help Philadelphia understand and appreciate, among other things, the breadth of green infrastructure projects being designed and implemented through the Green City, Clean Waters program.

Using the data we’ve collected and shared, they can conceive fun and engaging ways for people explore things like green infrastructure locations, how much rain is falling in different parts of the city, and how the topic of customer phone calls varies from neighborhood to neighborhood.

PhillyInnovates, a blog by the City's Managing Director’s Office, just published this helpful list of the data sets Philadelphia Water released today:

New Bill Encourages Green Roofs, Density

Water industry representives from across North America check out the Paseo Verde green roof in North Phila. Credit: Brian Rademaekers/Philadelphia Water.
Water industry representatives from across North America check out the Paseo Verde green roof in North Phila. Credit: Brian Rademaekers/Philadelphia Water.

Green City, Clean Waters is the biggest plan in the U.S. designed to manage stormwater with green infrastructure, and that means Philadelphia Water will take all the help it can get from developers who want to add value to their properties while also lessening the negative environmental impacts with green stormwater tools.

On October 8th, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Chair of the Council Committee on the Environment, introduced a bill that would give the development community a new incentive to include one of the most talked about green infrastructure tools out there – green roofs.

Brown’s bill would allow for density zoning bonuses for developers who incorporate approved green roofs into building designs.

"As a City, we have been steadily increasing incentives to build green roofs, and it is working. Philadelphia is now the number three City in North America when it comes to green roof square footage, trailing only Washington, D.C. and Toronto, Canada; that is huge," Councilwoman Reynolds Brown said in statement released by her office.

Green roofs would have to meet Philadelphia Water's design standards to qualify for the density bonus, and Commissioner Howard Neukrug offered support for the new bill.

"We thank Councilwoman Reynolds Brown for helping to provide this added incentive that will create more green roofs in Philadelphia," said Neukrug. "Green roofs help to manage stormwater, keeping it from overwhelming our sewer system and polluting our rivers. This legislation will also help make green roofs more affordable and help create more jobs for our local green business community."

Under the current code, a 10,000 square foot lot in a Residential Multi Family Zoning District (RM-1) would be zoned for twenty dwelling units. If the developer added an approved green roof to the design, the same lot would be zoned for 27 units.

In a Neighborhood Commercial Mixed Zoning District (CMX-2 and CMX-2.5) a 10,000 square foot building is currently zoned for 19 dwelling units and under the new law, would be zoned for 27 units, provided they install an approved green roof.

A green roof is defined by the ordinance as “a treatment to a rooftop that supports living vegetation and includes a synthetic, high quality waterproof membrane, drainage layer, root barrier, soil layer, and vegetation layer.”

Philadelphia would join a small but growing number of cities offering density bonuses for green roofs including San Diego, Portland, Ore., Chicago, and Austin. The bill will be referred to the Committee on the Rules, Chaired by Councilman Bill Greenlee, who expects a fall 2015 hearing.

To see a full copy of the bill, please click here.

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