Soak it Up

Globe Times Maurice standing in front of a stormwater bump-out on 63rd & Passyunk
Maurice standing in front of a stormwater bump-out on 63rd & Passyunk

The Soak It Up Adoption is an innovative grant program managed by the Philadelphia Water Department in coordination with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and the Philadelphia Industrial Corporation (PIDC), which is used to beautify and engage residents around green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). 

GSI’s are used to help reduce or prevent stormwater runoff — one of the fastest growing sources of water pollution. They include a wide range of soil, water, and plant systems that intercept stormwater, infiltrate a portion of it into the ground, and evaporate some of it into the air. In some cases the water is allowed to slowly seep back into sewer system.

One type of Stormwater Management Practice (SMP) is called a “bump-out.” A stormwater bump-out is a vegetated curb extension that protrudes into the street either mid-block or at an intersection, creating a new curb some distance from the existing curb. It is composed of a layer of stone that is topped with soil and plants. Usually, an inlet or curb-cut directs runoff into the bump-out structure where it can be stored, infiltrated, and taken up by the plants in a process called evapotranspiration. Aside from managing stormwater, bump-outs also help with traffic calming, and when located at crosswalks, they provide a pedestrian safety benefit by reducing the street crossing distance.

Two examples of “bump-outs” that can be found in Southwest are located on 61st and Passyunk as well as 63rd and Passyunk.

The Soak it Up Adoption program has more than 15 partners, one of which is the Southwest CDC. Maurice Mason works through the CDC’s partnership and helps to maintain the bump-outs as well as other SMP’s in Southwest Philadelphia.

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