Philadelphia clean water initiative marks 10 years into its 25-year plan

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters, a 25-year plan to restore the city's creeks and rivers, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The city plan focuses on preserving open space, using trees and native plants to manage stormwater runoff, and reduce demand on the sewer system.

Last week, Green Philly, a sustainability hub, held a forum on green stormwater initiatives, a major focus of the plan. The idea is to use natural resources to reduce flooding and restore trees and gardens in the city. The green projects are being installed in communities throughout Philadelphia.

Green Philly's Julie Hancher said Philadelphia is already experiencing 4 inches of annual rainfall thanks to the climate crisis. Part of the problem, she explained, is that the city has an old sewer system, some of it dating back to colonial times. Hancher said it's time to upgrade the system or get nature to help us.

Hancher says part of the Green City, Clean Waters plan has the Philadelphia Water Department investing $2.4 million over 25 years.

"By implementing these projects including rain gardens, stormwater planters, tree pits," said Hancher, "the city can also reduce our water pollution impacts, and they can also improve our natural resources, and make our neighborhoods and communities more beautiful and vibrant."

Melvin Powell III is with Sunflower Philly, a nonprofit organization which has created a park at 5th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, at the site of a former gas station.

"We've also worked with developers, and some development projects, to have tree tanks that we are helping filter some water from the area," he said, "so we actually have 22 trees along 5th Street and Germantown Avenue, that are currently in tanks, a variety of native species."

Powell said the park originally started after a 12,000-gallon rainwater tank was installed at the site.