Looking Into Philly's Infrastructure

My first blog post addressed some issues with grey infrastructure and stormwater management in the city as well as briefly explaining the problems in the system. Now I gathered some more information around the situation with the help of my mother and some field observations.

Mz. Julie Snell (my mom) worked at PHS for a number of years before starting her own business in landscape architecture along with two other women from PHS. Now seeing as Mz. Snell worked in her field as long as she has as well as teaching a class about green infrastructure at Temple University, I consider Mz. Snell an expert in green infrastructure. So I chose to interview her. In the interview I asked a few questions that relate to stormwater management and green infrastructure in our city.

Is stormwater management a problem in this city and if so how? Was my first question for Mz. Snell. The response explained how that yes it is a problem because of Philadelphia's very old combined sewer system which when is overflowed will cause backups that’ll get your basement flooded.

My second question asked how quickly the city was changing to green infrastructure. Mz. Snell explained Green City Clean Waters, which is a 25 year, 2.5 billion dollar  project that started in 2011. The main goal is to get rid of the combined sewer overflows(CSOs) and the push behind the project is that Philly as well as other cities is mandated by the EPA to eliminate CSOs by 2026.

Knowing that Mz. Snell played a role in getting the Peco green roof all set back in 2009 I asked her about the process and specifically how long it took. I was surprised to hear that it was a very short project. It went from planning the concept of the green roof  in November to putting in the sedums only a month later. As Mz. Snell explained the timeline she also focused heavily on the fact that with green infrastructure the cost of installation is much less and will start working right away. Unlike grey infrastructure such as huge pipes and expanding sewer systems. So hopefully it won’t take that long for the city to reach their goal of getting rid of CSOs

In my fourth question I asked about what people around the city can do to help out. I wanted a better idea of what people could do to involve themselves some more. Mz. Snell explained how there are plenty of volunteering opportunities all over the city. You can choose to volunteer with PHS and join a tree tender group, you can help out with Parks and Rec friend groups, or you can even get a tree right out front of your house for free. The Tree City program can take a look at your space outside your house and see if you can qualify for a tree out there. Other than that you can do your best to keep the city a clean and healthy place by recycling and making sure your trash gets to a trash can.

My final question was simply if there was anything else Mz. Snell thinks people should know about green infrastructure in Philly. In response I got a message about how people who live in this city should be proud of the progress we’ve made with green infrastructure. I was kind of surprised to hear that at first but then I thought to myself that I should be proud of my city and it’s long plan for a cleaner environment.

  • This is me an my mother shorty after I conducted the interview with her. I have her to thank for most of my information so thank you, Mom.

Other than an interview with my very own mother I also wanted a location in the city for field observations. Lucky for me there are plenty, the closet on eto SLA would be the Peco green roof. So going up there for my field observations was my original plan. Although it was harder than I thought to get up there seeing as it is not simply open to the public so I had to go with a backup plan which was Cira Green. Development for the green roof finished back in 2015 and if you don’t know the place I’m talking about it’s a green roof on top of the parking building next to the big FMC tower. Greenroofs.com provides the background information of the building such as the building type, the size, and the system. Other than when you go up there you can see how everything is put in place so when it rains it holds a good amount of water in the beds up there.

The coolest part about these projects is that they are usually public places like cira green so when the weather is nice they are really great places to hang out with friends. While at the same time time it’s a powerhouse of stormwater management. Why wouldn’t you want you city filled with places like Cira Green all over. Maybe they will be one day because in the last few years Philly’s green infrastructure has only gotten better and better so I know the only way is forward in this journey of making our city a better place.