More than 30 percent of Philly’s impervious surfaces are associated with residential locations. In a city where the green canopy is lacking, the actions one can take to improve the sustainability of one’s own home are a great opportunity to do good for the planet.

Rain Check is a new neighborhood pilot program from the Philadelphia Water Department designed to help neighbors reduce the cost of installing rainwater management tools on their property and participate in installing green elements at homes around the city. By subsidizing the cost of downspout planters, yard trees, de-paving, porous paver systems and rain gardens by up to 95%, according to this graph from the University City District, homeowners are encouraged to participate in the birth of a widespread Philadelphia sustainable movement. Participation will not lower the cost of a water bill, but it will help to reduce negative aspects of storm-water runoff like combined sewer overflows, or CSO’s.

This could be your yard!

A PWD employee will help selected homeowners determine the best way to manage storm-water runoff at their properties. While only a few locations were selected as part of the pilot program (the list is forthcoming) a number of factors like diversity of housing types and strength of local civic organizations were included in the decision, according to the PWD. If the program succeeds, a citywide initiative will be implemented.

University City is one of the host neighborhoods. In UC, participation is limited to 35 homeowners and the deadline for applications is April 1. We hope this works. Imagine a city with gardens or green elements at virtually every property. Call us dreamers, but it’s worth a try!

–Lou Mancinelli