Well this is certainly a topic that is fresh in everyone’s minds as recent extreme rains have left basements flooded, cars wrecked, roads closed, and our Water Works temporarily out of commission. These events are becoming more frequent as what used to be known as “100-year storms” occur once or twice each decade now. In this region, PWD plays an important role in planning for consequences of global climate change and mitigating the effects of these weather events.
Our primary method of handling this has been to reduce the amount of stormwater run-off that rushes directly into our streams and rivers by investing $40 to $50 million each year to create more acreage to soak that rain into the ground water. We’re also investing $30 million in infrastructure improvements every year to enhance our ability to collect and divert stormwater. Over the next several years we are studying potentially $1 billion in system improvements through our Green City, Clean Waters program. For homeowners, PWD has provided nearly $1.7 million since 2005 to install basement back-up protection devices at 455 homes in the city.
PWD and our partner city agencies are also coordinating response and recovery with other city, state, and federal agencies to provide advanced warning forecasts in advance of large storms. We’re creating tidal and neighborhood flooding projections and vulnerability analyses, revising FEMA flood map, projecting climate change impacts, installing signage in vulnerable areas, reviewing zoning and building codes, and meeting with communities to help guide them through these changes.
PWD has always been forward looking and has anticipated the challenges and opportunities that Philadelphia has faced over the decades. Storm flood relief is a challenge that is only going to get more severe over the next several decades. We continue to focus on the issue as we have for the past several years.