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Water Department awards $5 million in community grants for stormwater management
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Water Department awards $5 million in community grants for stormwater management

Six city schools lead the list of green infrastructure to arrive in continued efforts to protect Philly’s waterways.

The Philadelphia Water Department announced over $5 million in stormwater grant funding (as part of its Green City, Clean Waters initiative) to 11 community outlets – six of which were Philly-area schools this month. 

The goal of the city’s Stormwater Grant Program is for the restoration of Philadelphia’s watershed in addition to beautifying acreage and lowering monthly water bill costs. This marks the ninth year of the program, with this year in partnership with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC).

PWD received requests for more than $31 million in funding from a number of seekers according to the Water Department’s website. The Water Department chose specific schools, businesses and organizations throughout the city through a month-long review and approval process. The funding will “provide benefits to the immediate neighborhoods that need stormwater management,” according to PWD’s Stormwater Billing and Incentives Manager, Beth Anne Lutes. 

The recipients of this year’s Stormwater Grant Funding were:

  • Add B Anderson School
  • AMY Northwest Middle School
  • Esperanza Headquarters
  • Grover Washington Middle School
  • James R. Lowell Elementary School
  • Kin Properties
  • KIPP Charter School
  • Philadelphia Federal Credit Union
  • Thomas Alva Edison High School
  • Teo Chew
  • Water Reuse System

In total, the stormwater construction that will take place at these locations will be to the benefit of roughly 40 acres of land that will assist in city stormwater flow and ongoing management. 

Since 2012, improvements from PWD’s Stormwater Grant Program have come in the form of rain gardens, lawns and other community improvements.

So, how were these orgs chosen?

To be considered, applicants showed o potential job creation and show how the construction could also be used as a community event space. Another factor is to address “heat islands,” which tend to plague more densely populated sections of cities and offer school-specific learning opportunities – a clear indicator of why six schools were chosen. 

The greening of schools that encompass densely populated sections like Olney, Hunting Park, and Allegheny West seemed important – not only for the opportunity to get kids outside and to encourage play but for the potential in more outdoor learning across schools within the district. 

Additionally, projects that offered a space of respite or safely socialize for residents during the pandemic ranked high on the consideration list, according to Lutes.

“We hope these green schoolyards will encourage outdoor learning for students in the near future, and be an ongoing asset to the surrounding community providing multiple benefits,” Stephanie Chiorean, a PWD schools program partnership specialist told the blog.

The initiative is one that has proved beneficial. According to PWD, grant funding from the Stormwater Grant Program has fueled the construction of over 750 acres of city landscape.

With each acre accountable for the management of over 30,000 gallons of stormwater runoff during a mere one-inch rainstorm, this program’s sustainability has proved a vital component in the ongoing protection of Philadelphia’s watershed. 

Photos: Kerith Gabriel

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Kerith Gabriel started out as a sports writer over a decade ago for the Philadelphia Daily News. He left sports to focus on issues that deeply affect Philadelphians but really, he just loves telling a good story, regardless of genre. When he’s not prowling for a story, you can most likely find him playing soccer at Penn Park, or doing the dad thing around town. Email him at kerith.a.gabriel@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter via @sprtswtr. View all posts by Kerith Gabriel

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