Stormwater Management

Stormwater Management
Convert Stormwater into a Resource

Philadelphia, like most older cities, has a combined storm and sewer system.  In order to comply with the Clean Water Act, Philadelphia has adopted the most ambitious stormwater management plan in the nation: “Green City, Clean Waters.” Through this plan, the city is changing our urban habitat so that it may act more like the natural environment it once was.  Green infrastructure takes a holistic approach to stormwater while also beautifying our neighborhoods, by implementing a carefully guided set of best management practices, property retrofits, and community involvement. The Philadelphia Water Department has a number of excellent programs to help all building owners manage their stormwater on-site. 

Homeowners should contact the Rain Check program for help with all these stormwater management practices:

Permeable Pavement: Porous pavements are designed to offer the structural support of traditional pavements while allowing water to infiltrate the surface, instead of creating runoff. Consider materials such as porous concrete, or porous paver blocks for your driveway!

Depaving: Paved yards can be turned into a lawn or garden by removing concrete, asphalt, or other surfaces. Depaving allows more water to be absorbed into the ground and provides yard spaces that help filter out pollutants. Water absorbed into the ground is less likely to carry pollution from stormwater into our waterways.

Rain Barrel:  Connecting rain barrels to your home's downspouts is a great way to reuse water that would have ended up in the sewer system.  A rain barrel is a simple water storage container that is placed under the downspout of a gutter system to collect runoff from rooftops. 

The water isn’t suitable for drinking, but it can be used to water lawns, trees, gardens, or wash a car.
Get your FREE rain barrel through the Philadelphia Water Department’s Rain Check Program:
Rain Barrels are available for purchase at most hardware stores.

Rain Garden: Rain gardens are designed to collect stormwater until it can be used by vegetation that thrives in plenty of water.  A rain garden is placed so that it sits slightly lower than the surrounding ground level.  The impervious surfaces surrounding the rain garden are sloped toward it so the runoff may be collected.  Check out the diagram below to get a better idea of how rain gardens work. Get an expert to evaluate your property and see what type of rain garden you can install:
Downspout Planter Box: These boxes appear to be a basic garden box that is fed with water from roof gutters. But  the box is filled with gravel and sand that temporarily stores stormwater runoff. Pollutants are filtered as the water infiltrates down through the planter. They are typically waterproofed, and the bottom of the planter must be closed off. For more information on how to build a Downspout Planter, visit: Additional information: