PWD-EPA Project to Test Paving Materials for Pollution Prevention Potential; Results to Help Advance City’s Renowned Green City, Clean Waters Plan

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The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is using one of its major employee parking lots as a testing ground for various types of permeable pavement materials designed to prevent stormwater runoff from polluting local rivers and streams. Funded by the PWD and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the project will help advance strategies under the city’s nationally renowned Green City, Clean Waters stormwater management plan.

Crews have begun construction at the Southwest Water Pollution Control Plant parking lot at 4701 Fort Mifflin Road. Work is expected to be completed by spring 2014, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Because permeable pavement has the potential for widespread use throughout Philadelphia, the employee parking lot will be used to test and showcase up to six different types of permeable pavement, including multiple forms of pervious concrete, porous asphalt and permeable paver products.

The success of each material will be monitored closely for factors such as cost of installation, stability of the systems, permeability over time, maintenance requirements, and the ability to replicate it elsewhere. A review of how each type of material performs and reacts under the same conditions will allow PWD to determine its role for future projects around the city.

In addition to providing valuable information on the function of permeable pavement materials, repaving the employee parking lot affords an opportunity to make necessary upgrades to the site. This will include new landscaping throughout the parking lot that will also demonstrate innovative ways of managing stormwater.

The parking lot initiative is one of three PWD green infrastructure projects receiving a total of $1.14 million in EPA STAG funds. The other two are renovation and installation of green stormwater features at the Panati Playground at 3101-27 N. 22nd Street and at Pennypack Woods at 8724 Crispin Street. Both projects are still in the design phase and are expected to be implemented in the fall of 2014.

“We are truly honored by the commitment the EPA has demonstrated towards our vision of a greener Philadelphia,” remarked Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug. “By helping to remove barriers to innovation and paving (or greening) the way to a truly sustainable city, the EPA has proven to be a key partner in ensuring the success of our Green City, Clean Waters Plan.”

“EPA is proud to partner with PWD on these porous pavement parking pilots,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “By capturing and filtering water during wet weather events and avoiding stormwater runoff pollution, these projects can benefit communities by reducing flooding, improving local water quality, and building resiliency to the impacts of climate change by reducing the burden on local water infrastructure.”

This stage of the Green City, Clean Waters program represents a time of learning through demonstration, during which pilot projects are implemented and monitored in order to further expand and establish the main components of the program. Pilot projects include the design, installation and management of Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) tools, such as permeable pavement, under controlled conditions.

Installing pilot projects in or around PWD facilities ensures Department employees can supervise and evaluate the site on a regular basis to determine the most cost-effective and efficient GSI program.

Green City Clean Waters is the City’s $2 billion investment over the next 25 years that pledges to transform one-third of the City’s impervious surfaces in its combined sewer neighborhoods to green acres that manage the first inch of stormwater runoff. The plan is based on an adaptive management approach that will identify and maximize green practices that achieve the most efficient and cost-effective environmental goals.

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Laura Copeland
Philadelphia Water Department
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