FOW Congratulates PWD on Exceeding Pledge to “Green” 744 Acres

Conservation // June 01, 2016

This week the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) was acknowledged for meeting its target of keeping more that 600 million gallons of rain out of the aging sewer system for each of the past five years. It’s a tremendous accomplishment and Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) congratulates our partners at PWD in reducing stormwater runoff in the city primarily through the “greening” of more than 744 acres, with rain gardens, green roofs, and other water infiltration tools.

This seems like a good time to remind our readers that improving water infiltration in Philadelphia’s current green spaces is also being conducted in tandem with PWD’s efforts.

In Wissahickon Valley Park alone, large-scale efforts have been underway for years by FOW, PWD, and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) to reduce stormwater runoff. The Wissahickon Creek is a tributary of one of four water bodies in Philadelphia into which combined sewers discharge their flow—the Schuylkill River.

  • In 2006 FOW launched the Sustainable Trails Initiative in partnership with PPR and developed a comprehensive approach to improving stormwater management, as well as forest habitat and park user experience. Redesigned trails and restored habitat reduce stormwater runoff and improve the water quality of the Wissahickon Creek.
  • PPR and FOW worked together in 2010 on the Wissahickon Stormwater and Sediment Reduction Project and repaired eight sites of severe erosion in the Wissahickon. Stormwater runoff was dramatically reduced by the closure of trails that had become gullies over time.
  • The Joint Easement Program of FOW and Chestnut Hill Historical Society (CHHS) encourages property owners within the Wissahickon Watershed to donate potential development rights to CHHS, a land trust accredited by the land Trust Accreditation Commission. Many of the 32 conservation easement properties border on or are adjacent to Wissahickon Valley Park, and/or possess natural features that help to manage stormwater runoff.
  • In 2013 FOW completed the Valley Green Stream Stabilization and Parking Lot Improvements Project, done in partnership with PWD and PPR. Large stormwater flows had caused the once small, ephemeral stream adjacent to the Valley Green Road parking lot to rapidly erode. This contributed significant stormwater and sediment loads into the Wissahickon Creek during storms, as well as causing the parking lot to partially collapse.

These are just a few of the projects initiated over the last ten years that help improve water infiltration in Wissahickon Valley Park. There are many more being conducted in Philadelphia’s long-established green spaces. Share them with us here and let’s celebrate the greening of Philadelphia!

PHOTO ABOVE: At Kitchen’s Lane, volunteers planted close to 300 native shrubs and trees to reinforce closures of three old trail/gullies that were closed.

By Denise Larrabee, FOW Editor/Writer