Managing Rainfall: Stormwater Tour is a Splash!

Julie Slavet
Oct 21, 2013

There’s a lot of curiosity about the Green City, Clean Waters plan and the use of Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Philadelphia — how the city is using gardens, planters, and innovative technology to manage stormwater, rather than relying exclusively on traditional grey infrastructure and pipes to solve our stormwater runoff challenge. Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) systems improve the health of our streams, as well as providing numerous benefits to the community, such as jobs, cleaner air, and improved quality of life.

In response to requests from stakeholders across our watershed, TTF recently launched Managing Rainfall: TTF Stormwater Tours with funding from the Water Resource Education Network (WREN) of the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters Citizen Education Fund through a Growing Greener grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Targeted at municipal officials, staff, and volunteers, these tours provide an opportunity to showcase innovative projects, including one that TTF led!  We kicked off the two part tour series on Thursday, October 10.


The first tour drew fifteen participants including Environmental Advisory Committee members, local public works employees, staff from Pennsylvania Representative Steve McCarter, TTF and Friends of High School Park Board members, employees of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) staff, and interested citizens.

For those of you who may not remember last Thursday, it was wet! It was perfect weather to showcase how stormwater management features work. We watched the GSI “soak up” the rain while project specialists from the Philadelphia Water Department, and the firms AKRF, Inc. and Meliora Design described how these stormwater management practices operate. 


At Germantown’s Waterview Recreation Center, Meliora Design’s Altje Hoekstra described Philadelphia’s first porous concrete sidewalk, as well as a stormwater planter and tree trenches. The tour then visited the rain garden in Vernon Park, the Emerald of Germantown. This garden was planned and constructed by TTF in collaboration with AKRF, Inc. along with many community organizations and residents.

We then crossed the city to Frankford’s Womrath Park rain garden. AKRF engineer Rod Ritchie presented information about both the Vernon and Womrath Park rain gardens. Participants had the chance to see the technical work that goes into these types of installations and the smaller engineered components — the diversion downspouts, overflow pipes, stormwater inlets, and drains — that often go unnoticed amid the colorful plants and flowers.

Eadom Street was the last stop on the tour. PWD’s Office of Watersheds designed and carried out this depaving project, which converted sections of underused parking lot into a pervious, attractive and ecologically beneficial space. PWD landscape architect Rachel Ahren gave the group an overview of the project’s conceptual stage and installation.

Following the tour, a soggy-yet-enthusiastic bunch of participants gathered at the TTF office for further discussion over hot tea and snacks. Participants expressed their varying levels of familiarity with managing stormwater. For many, this was the first time that they had seen porous concrete or a rain garden. Others shared that the tour provided them with specific practices to apply to existing sites.

Interested in touring these sites? In response to all the interested folks we’ve heard from who could not join us on this first tour, we will provide the same tour again on Friday, November 8th. To register and for more information, contact Alex Cooper at

In the spring, TTF will showcase projects in Montgomery County.

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