PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Water Department recognized over a dozen city schools for having green schoolyards that create less stormwater runoff.
At a ceremony Thursday outside Southwark Elementary School in South Philadelphia, 13 schools were honored for having green stormwater infrastructures totaling more than 25 acres. City water commissioner Randy Hayman said each time it rains on the schoolyards, more water is absorbed into the soil.
"Each [acre] soaking up 27,000 gallons," Hayman said. "Now, that is a SEPTA bus-sized load of polluted runoff during a one-inch storm. That's huge!"
Asphalt once covered the schoolyard outside the 111-year-old Southwark School. For the last eight months, Southwark has had a new green schoolyard with playground equipment situated between plants, trees and porous pavers.
"It's given families and students a place of their own," principal Andrew Lukov told KYW Newsradio. "A place to move, a place to be active, a place to enjoy the beauty of grass and trees."
The new green space provides an educational benefit as well. For example, teacher Joe Ulrich uses the yard to teach science. "He's able to take the kids out of the classroom, out of the book and provide real-world experiences with this project," Lukov said.
Southwark's green yard was the result of a collaboration among the district, the water department and the Trust for Public Land.
A total of 38 Philadelphia schools have green stormwater features, created under the city's 25-year "Green City, Clean Waters" plan to reduce stormwater runoff and limit pollution in the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers.
"This is an issue that we all need to learn, adults and children alike," Hayman said. "To appreciate it, understand it, and understand how to best protect our watershed."