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.
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.
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
Nathaniel Popkin is the co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and co-producer and senior script editor of the documentary film series "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment." He's the author of Song of the City: An Intimate Portrait of the American Urban Landscape and The Possible City: Exercises in Dreaming Philadelphia.
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