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Eco-Explainer: What is Philadelphia Water’s “Rain Check” program?
Water

Eco-Explainer: What is Philadelphia Water’s “Rain Check” program?

Philadelphia Water’s Rain Check program is a free, easy way to help prevent flooding in your home and neighborhood.

What is the Rain Check program?

Philadelphia Water Rain Check is a program that helps Philadelphia residents reduce their water bills while protecting the environment and beautifying their homes.

Rain Check helps you capture rainwater to prevent flooding and pollution. The program includes a customized plan including green infrastructure tools like rain barrels and downspouts that capture rainwater from your roof.

Entering the Rain Check program means you will receive an annual credit on your water bill for the precipitation captured in your cistern, reducing the amount of stormwater runoff entering the sewer system during heavy rainfall events.

How does the Rain Check program work?

The Rain Check program will get you a customized plan to capture rainwater and reduce flooding. This can help reduce your water bill, prevent stormwater pollution, and keep runoff from streams and rivers.

Rain Check is designed to measure the amount of water that runs off your property when it rains or snows, so that they can understand how much stormwater pollution comes from different parts of Philadelphia Water’s service area.

The Rain Check program and green infrastructure

Green infrastructure is an approach to managing stormwater pollution that can also provide other benefits. It includes rain gardens, cisterns, and bioswales.

Green infrastructure is a cost-effective solution. For example, features like rain gardens can be installed at low cost because they don’t require extensive grading or drainage systems.

Green infrastructure tools you can get for your home

Philadelphia Water’s Rain Check program offers financial assistance to help you purchase several different types of green infrastructure tools.

Here are the four main types of tools they will help you to buy:

1. Rain barrels

Rain barrels are 55-gallon cylindrical storage containers connected to downspouts that capture stormwater runoff from your home’s roof. You can use water for non-edible plants or outdoor cleaning, which also reduces household water use.

They generally cost about $150, but are free to program participants!

2. Metal downspout planter

Photo: PWD Raincheck website

A downspout planter is a decorative planter designed to filter stormwater before entering the sewer system. They are made from galvanized metal tubs, which can hold plants, water storage and soil to allow the plants to thrive.

These can cost up to $1,000, but the Rain Check program covers most of the cost, leaving residents to pay only $100. Plus, you’ll get complimentary flowers to plant in your new downspout planter!

3. Rain gardens

Rain gardens are shallow depressions in the earth that are planted with flowers and other plants. They catch and absorb water runoff from your roof, preventing it from entering the sewer system.

Rain gardens cost between $17 and $25 per square foot, but the Rain Check program will pay $16 per square foot to build one in your yard, up to $1,500. The homeowner or participant would pay for the remainder.

4. Permeable pavers

Permeable pavers are specially-designed pavers, stones or bricks that allow water to soak through to the ground beneath them. This helps to reduce stormwater runoff.

They usually cost between $30 and $50 per square foot, but the Rain Check program will pay $15 per square foot to re-pave your walkways and patios, up to $1,500. The homeowner or participant would pay for the remainder.

How to get Rain Check in your home

The simplest way to get started with the Rain Check program is to take a survey on the PWD website to detemine which tools are best for your home.

From there, the Water Department will contact you regarding the projects you are interested in installing around your home and set up an inspection of your property.

You can also attend a PWD Rain Check workshops to learn more about the program and how it helps the Philadelphia area. (Note: workshops are paused until January 2023.)

If you’re interested in learning more about how your property can become part of Philadelphia Water’s Rain Check program, contact them here.


Broke in Philly
Broke in Philly is a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push toward economic justice. Green Philly is one of more than 20 news organizations in the collective. Follow us on Twitter @BrokeInPhilly.

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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