New Womrath Park To Open In November


Rain garden under construction at Womrath Park | Photo: Nathaniel Popkin

Frankford’s Womrath Park, undergoing a major overhaul to transform it into an active stormwater basin, will open in November, according to an official with the Philadelphia Water Department.

The project is funded as part of a $30 million loan received from Pennvest, the state revolving loan fund, to implement PWD’s Green City, Clean Waters program, which is aimed at keeping street runoff out of Philadelphia’s streams and rivers and reducing the number of stormwater overflows that occur each year. Green City, Clean Water will transform over a hundred blocks across the city into green infrastructure.

“Every time we install a project it starts to work immediately, that’s the beauty of this approach,” says PWD’s Jessica Brooks, who oversaw a project design team that included members of the firms Wallace, Roberts, and Todd and Duffield Associates and officials from the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Traditional sewer infrastructure is more expensive and provides no benefits until an entire system is installed, a process that might take 10-20 years.

Image: Philadelphia Water Department

Womrath will be capable of accepting an inch of run-off from surrounding streets and the Market-Frankford El, into a series of rain gardens, swales, and basins. Modular storage tanks below the ground of the park will store much of the run-off, releasing it slowly into the sewer system.

Here is how the Water Department describes the performance of the park’s new stormwater system:

Follow the blue arrows to understand the stormwater flow from the street through the inlets to the swale, which directs the stormwater to the rain garden and stone storage bed underneath the rain garden. The swale infiltrates some stormwater, while also directing it to the rain garden, where it is infiltrated into the soil and the stone storage bed. The stormwater is then slowly released when it is not raining back into the existing combined sewer pipe. There is an overflow drain, which connects to an overflow pipe leading to the existing combined sewer pipe, that helps drain the rain garden when it reaches capacity.

Installation of overflow drain in Womrath Park | Photo: Nathaniel Popkin

The new park will reuse broken up concrete already on site and architectural salvage to build a series of check-downs, guiding water through the site.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

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