Check, Please! Program helps foot the bill for residential stormwater improvements

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The free rain barrel program by the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) has been a big hit, and with the city’s Rain Check program, even more residents can get help stepping up their stormwater game. Now in its second year, PWD’s Rain Check program connects neighborhoods served by a combined sewer system with the resources to implement a variety of stormwater tools.

More than 200 households took advantage of the program last year. Homeowners sign up on the PWD website, and once the right approach is selected for a property, the city sends a contractor to price the job. If the homeowner gives the okay, the city kicks in funding, drastically reducing the cost. The tool most residents used in the first year was the downspout planter, which collects water, but also acts as a living garden. Larger-scale options include de-paving and rain gardens. This year, PWD is working with roughly 350 properties.

“It’s a direct benefit for homeowners, in the sense that they get to have a tool that benefits their home at a greatly discounted cost,” says Rain Check program manager Maggie Wood. The current year is booked, but there is a waiting list in case of cancellations. The program will be available again next year.

For more information, visit phillywatersheds.org/raincheck.

Story byBrian Rademakers