Philadelphia’s Creative Stormwater Project

Philadelphia residents and tourists in the city’s historic Independence Hall area can now soak in a truly stunning piece of green infrastructure.   Philadelphia’s Water Department has a new “living wall” which is now managing stormwater runoff.  Not only is it a smart use of natural resources, it is an eye-catching arrangement of colorful flowers and greeneries that has passersby looking and admiring.  Featuring over 70 individual plants, all of them native to Pennsylvania, suspended from a vertical structure, the living wall collects rainwater from the roof in four stainless steel tanks. The sewer and storm water system struggles to handle wastewater and rain during heavy storms.  An overwhelmed system can put polluted water into rivers and streams. Green tools provide a smart, cost-effective solution to this problem.  The living wall was made using locally sourced and recycled materials and is a completely self-contained system.

Green tools combat pollution by using plants, soil and stone to filter out bad stuff (up to 80 percent of pollutants) and keep too much stormwater from overwhelming the sewer system.  Just like they do in nature, these living landscapes capture excess water and use it to sustain plants before slowly filtering it into the ground. Instead of flowing into Philadelphia’s sewer system, which can become overwhelmed during intense rainstorms, the water is pumped from the storage tanks via solar power into irrigation lines that sustain the plant life. The wall was made possible as a result of the partnership between Philadelphia Water, the National Park Service and the Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Nonpoint Pollution grant program.

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