Thank you for your interest in Soak It Up Adoption!

This page outlines some of the most frequently asked questions about the program.

Please take a moment to review the information below before completing an application.

Soak It Up Adoption (SIUA) is an innovative grant program from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD). Adoption Partners assume responsibility for the care of one, or more, green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) site(s). Responsibilities include helping to make sure that the site is litter free, curb lines are clear of trash, and that the surface of inlets and other components are unobstructed. Beyond helping with aesthetic maintenance and monitoring, participants will help PWD educate and engage their community about their adopted GSI site(s). Small, annual, grants are dispersed to organizations that meet our criteria and contractually agree to care for GSI sites and engage residents. The grant amount awarded is contingent on the number of sites adopted as well as the level of public engagement proposed.

Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), or “green tools”, use plants, trees, and stone to filter and manage stormwater in the built urban environment. These green tools capture stormwater before it enters our combined sewers and help protect local waterways. PWD uses a variety of green tool types, including: rain gardens, stormwater planters, stormwater bumpouts, stormwater tree trenches, and porous pavers. By adopting one or more GSI sites you are not only helping us maintain these systems, you are also agreeing to help beautify your neighborhood and educate your neighbors.

The Adoption program targets Philadelphia civics and nonprofits representing a specific community. Please see the Eligibility graphic (below), and the following bullet points for clarification.

  • Have public, PWD-owned and constructed, GSI in your boundaries.
    • Privately owned GSI is not eligible for the SIUA program.
  • Have 501(c)3 status; organizations with an Employer Identification Number (EIN) are preferred.
  • Have a minimum of 1 full time paid staff member, or equivalent (exceptions are subject to PWD approval).
  • Comply with all programmatic insurance, liability, and tax requirements as stipulated by PWD and the City of Philadelphia.
  • Submit reporting forms 1x per week for each adopted site.
  • Host regular community meetings and/or have another engagement system in place for regular residential updates and member notification.
  • Submit the following, annually: program application, mid-year, and end-of-year reports.
Is Your Civic Group Elligile for the Adoption Program? (see resources page for Eligibility Matrix pdf)

PWD has contracted the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) to administer the disbursal of the SIUA grants. Once your program application has been approved by PWD, PIDC will send you a sub grant agreement to sign. PIDC must ensure that all organizations receiving grants are properly insured and up to date on all tax obligations owed to the City of Philadelphia. Organizations unable to meet these requirements will be ineligible to receive a grant.

Organizations receiving grants from the City of Philadelphia are required to maintain the following insurances. Note, SIUA grant money cannot be used to purchase these liabilities and insurances.

  1. Workers’ Compensation and Employers’ Liability
    1. Workers’ Compensation: Statutory Limits.
    2. Employers’ Liability: $100,000 Each Accident – Bodily Injury by Accident; $100,000 Each Employee – Bodily Injury by Disease; and $500,000 Policy Limit – Bodily Injury by Disease
    3. Other states’ insurance including Pennsylvania
  2. General Liability Insurance 
    1. Limit of Liability: $1,000,000 per occurrence combined single limit for bodily injury (including death) and property damage liability; $2,000,000 advertising injury; $2,000,000 general aggregate and $1,000,000 aggregate for products and completed operations. The City may require higher limits of liability if, in the City’s sole discretion, the potential risk warrants.
    2. Coverage: Premises operation; blanket contractual liability; personal injury liability; products and completed operations; independent contractors, employees and volunteers as additional insureds; cross liability and broad form property damage (including completed operations).
  3. Automobile Liability Insurance
    1. Limit of Liability: $1,000,000 per occurrence combined single limit for bodily injury (including death) and property damage liability.
    2. Coverage: Owned, non-owned and hired vehicles.

Grant funds will be awarded in two lump sums as participants move through the program. The first will be for 75% of your total grant, received upon application approval and initial training. The second will be for the remaining 25% of your grant, received upon review of your site maintenance duties, reporting duties, expenses, and a debriefing meeting(s). More information can be seen below.

To obtain up to 75% of Project funding

  • Complete all required application paperwork and execute a sub-grant agreement with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC).
    • The following paperwork must accompany an application: letter of intent (on organization letterhead), W-9 & tax certification forms, insurance/liability forms.
  • Adoption partners must attend an initial training session and site tour with PWD and/or the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).

To obtain final 25% of Project Funding:

  • Adoption partners must reliably perform weekly site care and monitoring duties.
  • Adoption partners must be current on all weekly site reporting to date.
  • Adoption partners must have successfully submitted their mid-and-end-of-year reports.
    • All SIUA-related receipts must accompany the end-of-year report.  
  • Adoption partners must have attended the annual administrative meeting with PWD and/or the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).
  • Adoption partners may be asked to complete an audit of expenses with a representative of Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC).

Adoption partners perform what is referred to as “aesthetic maintenance”, which means picking up and clearing trash and debris, monitoring the existing infrastructure, and reporting serious problems immediately. All adopters are required to visit their sites and report back to PWD once per week. Partners will report on these weekly site visits through the online reporting form. The table below details the responsibilities associated with maintaining a GSI site.

Reporting is done through an online form, found on the Partner Resources page of the website (available once you log in). All Adoption partners must also keep back up trash and engagement totals, for data verification. Below are some finer details on reporting:

  • Reporting forms are to be submitted 1x per week for each site.
  • Reporting is to be done primarily through the online form.
  • Photos of your site should be submitted when there is an issue.
  • For major damage please call PWD customer assistance first (215-685-6300), then call/submit a 311 report, and lastly take pictures and send directly to Dan Schupsky.

Every day thousands of Philadelphians interact with green stormwater infrastructure. However, like many public projects, it’s not always easy to see the impact it has on our communities. GSI sites often look like what we’re used to seeing – typical street trees, gardens and sidewalks. As Adoption partners you play a key role in unveiling what is behind that green space for your friends, family and neighbors to enjoy.

Some suggested engagement strategies include:

  • Regularly present about the Adoption program, and your hard work, at community meetings.
  • Engage neighbors who live adjacent to GSI about what you’re doing during weekly site visits.
  • Write an article for your local neighborhood paper or civic association newsletter.
  • Post on social media platforms about the Adoption program, Green City, Clean Waters, or other content related to GSI.
  • Host a Rain Check workshop at your organization.
  • PWD can assist with some of the following:
    • Table at a block party or community event to talk about your role as an Adoption partner.
    • Lead community members on a tour of your Adoption sites.
    • Host a clean-up event at one of your adoption sites.
    • Take your organization’s members on a trip to Fairmount Water Works (it’s free!).
    • Help PWD partner with a local school to educate students on stormwater and GSI.

If you have ideas for other types of engagement, please reach out; we’d love to hear them.

In summary, to participate in the Soak It Up Adoption Program, all Adiotion partners are required to do the following:

  • Submit an application with all required documentation.
  • Attend a training session with PWD to learn about your adoption site(s).
  • Visit each of your sites 1x week and report on these sites 1x week.
    • All organizations are required to keep back-up trash and engagement totals.
  • Provide and maintain materials/supplies necessary for workers and volunteers to perform site visit duties; provide safe storage for any/all SIUA-related equipment.
  • Report any/all structural damage and/or major issues immediately to PWD upon discovery.
    • For major damage please call PWD customer assistance first (215-685-6300), then call/submit a 311 report, and lastly take picture(s) and send directly to Dan Schupsky.
  • Educate and engage your community about the Adoption program and your hard work through various channels. Assist PWD in creating awareness around your GSI site(s).
    • Engage neighbors who live adjacent to GSI site(s) to become site champions.
  • Assist PWD with occasional requests including assistance with Green City, Clean Waters outreach, program roll-outs, tours of your adoption site(s), etc.
  • Communicate regularly with staff from PWD, sharing needs and feedback about the program.
  • Complete mid and end-of-year reporting in a timely manner.
  • Keep all SIUA related receipts, and files, for a minimum of at least 3 years.

Thank you!

If you have additional questions or comments, please send them to PWD Program Manager Dan Schupsky:

Thank you for your interest and we hope to have you join our program!