Philadelphia keeps stormwater out of sewers to protect rivers

Read the full story at Philly.com.

Tropical Storm Girard unleashed a torrent of water on West Philadelphia in March.

Missed that news? It was not a real storm, but it might as well have been.

Philadelphia Water Department employees turned on a fire hydrant on West Girard Avenue for three hours, enough to fill up two longish ditches with 35,000 gallons of water – an experimental simulation of 3.5 inches of rain. Then they watched it disappear.

The ditches are rain gardens, brimming with grasses, flowers, and monitoring equipment, and they are part of an underground revolution.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of a consent agreement signed with state environmental regulators, and the city says it has met its target of keeping more than 600 million gallons of rain out of the aging sewer system each year.

It has done so with hundreds of water-absorbing “tools”: plant-studded green roofs, parking lots made of permeable pavement, stormwater trenches, and rain gardens such as the two on West Girard.

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