Green Infrastructure: Green City/Clean Waters Program

PEC provides technical and administrative aid to the Philadelphia Water Department in support of its innovative Green City/Clean Waters Program, which aims to add 9,000 “greened” acres over 25 years.


Green City, Clean Waters (GC/CW) is Philadelphia’s 25-year plan to protect and enhance its watersheds by managing stormwater with innovative green infrastructure. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) developed GC/CW to provide a clear pathway to a sustainable future while strengthening the utility, broadening its mission, and complying with environmental laws and regulations.

PEC provides assistance to the PWD on several aspects of its GC/CW program implementation.

We assist facilitation of the Soak-it- Up Adoption Program, a PWD initiative to engage community groups in the stewardship of green infrastructure projects such as rain gardens, tree trenches, and bump-outs.  Seven neighborhood groups completed the pilot year and seven new groups are recruited for second year program expansion.

In addition, we conduct green business outreach in Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) areas of Philadelphia through interactions with civic and business groups including presentations at meetings/workshops, and providing individual consultations. Participants are provided information to build awareness of good housekeeping and pollution prevention measures which can be implemented at their place of business.

October 12, 2015

Soak It Up Adoption Program Continues to Expand

Municipal stormwater photo

Students from Stephen Girard Elementary School take part in an environmental education event.

Since its launch in 2013, the Soak it Up Adoption Program has grown from seven to 16 neighborhood organizations including civic associations, community development corporations, and other non-profit community groups. The program’s growth continues to track the Philadelphia Water Department’s (PWD) efforts to expand the footprint of green infrastructure projects along city streets and in parks and schools.

PEC works as a leader in the program by recruiting new organizations and shepherding them through a mini-grant application process facilitated by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). PEC and PWD then support the Adoption organizations as they monitor and steward their green infrastructure projects such as tree trenches and rain gardens.

PWD developed a new Soak it Up Adoption web page and is instituting new reporting software to make weekly reporting easier for Adoption partners and more amendable to summarize Adoption statistics.

The participating groups also conduct education and outreach events that inform community members about the function and importance of the green infrastructure in keeping Philadelphia rivers and streams clean.

Community education and outreach has included site tours, presentations at community meetings, in-school educational programs, and postings on web sites and in community bulletins. Several organizations provide youth education through direct involvement in site maintenance activities (e.g. Urban Tree Connection Youth, UC Green Corps, and JASTech’s Overbrook Centers Green High School).

Partners have found one of the best forms of education is through word of mouth, responding to their neighbors questions of “what are you doing?” when they are out on the street caring for the green stormwater projects.

February 20, 2015

PEC Implements Stormwater Management Implementation Practices on Commercial Properties

With funding from statewide programs, PEC is working with four small commercial property owners to facilitate design and construction of Green Infrastructure projects.

PEC received a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Growing Greener Grant and a Stormwater Implementation Program Grant from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to initiate a pilot program that would help identify and then facilitate the design and installation of green stormwater management practices (smps) on small commercial properties within the same neighborhood. The goals of the program are to reduce runoff from these properties to area streams, promote beautification of the neighborhoods, engage the community in using green tools, and potentially save property owners money on their stormwater bills.

The project area is the Juniata Park neighborhood of Philadelphia which is part of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford (TTF) Watershed and also a high-priority combined sewer overflow (CSO) area of the city. With outreach assistance provided by the TTF Watershed Partnership and technical assistance provided by the Philadelphia Water Department and AKRF engineers, we screened potential sites and identified property owners willing to participate in this unique program. Once final selections were made, conceptual plans were developed in consultation with each property owner to determine cost effective green stormwater tools that could help manage stormwater and reduce stormwater fees for the owner. PEC is currently working with four property owners. Green stormwater tools developed for each property were based on their unique characteristics and infrastructure and include rain gardens, cisterns, roof top gutter disconnections, tree plantings, and de-paving.

As a condition of the funding, property owners must agree to properly maintain the improvements in accordance with a custom-tailored maintenance plan developed by the PWD staff. We are in collaboration with the TTF Watershed Partnership, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and PWD staff to provide educational programs that train property owners to properly maintain their improvements.

AKRF recently completed 30% design drawings for each of the properties and is currently reviewing these plans with each owner in order to proceed to 60% design engineering. A spring 2015 construction is anticipated. We will also develop a program report highlighting the findings and lessons learned from this pilot program.

The Philadelphia Stormwater Management Implementation Program concept design

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