Philadelphia Water Department’s Rain Check Program

Cedar Run has been involved in the Philadelphia Water Department’s Rain Check program for several years and has transformed dozens of backyards that were mostly concrete into environmentally friendly spaces that help manage Philadelphia’s storm water. It’s exciting to be on the forefront of a growing trend in urban infrastructure improvement and sustainability.

The Rain Check Program encourages and incentivizes homeowners in Philadelphia to remove impervious surfaces on their property and install sustainable alternatives in their place. Options available to homeowners include rain barrels, downspout planter boxes, rain gardens, depaving, and permeable paving systems.

A downspout planter box installed above a permeable EP Henry Eco-Brickstone Driveway:

Our installations follow water department guidelines that are aimed at reducing stormwater runoff and inflow into the sewer system. Much of Philadelphia’s surface drains collect storm water and direct it into wastewater/sewage treatment plants. These plants are only designed to hold and process a certain amount of water and in heavy rain events can be overwhelmed by the influx of rainwater. When this occurs the EPA permits Philadelphia to discharge excess wastewater into local waterways through Combined Sewer Outfalls (CSOs). In Philadelphia there are 164 CSO locations where a combination of stormwater, wastewater, and raw sewage, are discharged into local waterways during heavy rain events. The release of this contaminated water pollutes streams and rivers and also increases the velocity of the already swollen waterways which leads to the erosion of riverbanks and scouring of creek beds.

The city of Philadelphia and the PWD have committed to reducing the number of CSOs and improving local water quality by eliminating impervious surfaces wherever possible. Cedar Run is contributing to this effort by removing concrete slabs in backyards, driveways, and sidewalks and installing in their place permeable pavement systems and rain gardens. Permeable paving system and rain gardens collect and infiltrate rainwater below their surface, preventing runoff and slowing the velocity and flow of stormwater into local rivers. They are also much more attractive than plain concrete and make outdoor spaces more enjoyable for residents.

Philadelphia residents can learn more about and sign up for the Rain Check Program here:

Philadelphia Water Department’s Rain Check Program

More information:

Read more about Philadelphia’s Combined Sewer System

Interactive Green Tools Map of Philadelphia

A few of our Rain Check Permeable Pavement projects can be found below. The before photos show the sites after the concrete has been removed, the after photos are of the finished permeable pavers, in this case EP Henry Eco-Brickstone.

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