Save money and save the environment?
It’s a definite win-win and H. Joon Pak, P.E., is spreading the word on an innovative program that does just that. He’s also on the forefront of getting the projects off the drawing board and into action.
Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is offering Stormwater Incentives to commercial property owners to get as much stormwater out of the city’s sanitary sewer system as possible. In times of high rain volume, the treatment facilities cannot handle the flow leading to untreated sewage entering nearby rivers. “This is a problem, and the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) wants it fixed,” says Joon, a Civil Engineer and Senior Project Manager in CEC’s Philadelphia office.
Getting commercial and industrial property owners on board will go a long way toward that goal.
According to the PWD website, the financial and development incentives are offered to incorporate more (or keep existing) beneficial stormwater management techniques on private property.
Different Stormwater Incentives can provide:
- Some relief on a monthly stormwater bill with Stormwater Fee credits.
- A Stormwater Grant to design and build stormwater management practices (SMPs) on private property. These projects are then eligible for Stormwater Credits.
- A lump sum or zoning allowances/exceptions for managing “extra” area in a stormwater project, known as Development Incentives.
Joon says the biggest challenge to the program is getting the word out to property owners and getting them on board. These incentives can often result in an 80% reduction in stormwater fees, based on the property size.
He’s among the early adopters working with clients on attaining these incentives. “I love this type of work.”
Joon and CEC will collaborate from the start of a project setup, design the build, and work with the site contractor. Grants are distributed based on how much impervious surface is proposed to be managed but the grant funds typically cover all of the project-related costs, so there is no additional outlay for the property owner.
“The bigger the property is, the better the chances of securing the grant,” Joon adds. He adds LaSalle University is among the PWD customers that have taken advantage of this incentive/grant program.
So where does that stormwater runoff go once it’s diverted from the PWD sewer system?
Joon said it mostly goes underground into a system of infiltration pipes. Rain gardens are a great cost-effective option if the property allows for green space. “They’re cheaper to build and cheaper to maintain,” Joon says. Another option is “depaving” which creates a less impervious surface for parking lots and other paved parcels.
While such improvements certainly are economically beneficial to the property owners, they are also environmentally beneficial to the residents of Philadelphia and beyond.
Joon has been involved in the transformation of almost two dozen properties over the past seven years. “PWD knows me well and it’s really great to get CEC on board,” he adds.
Meet our expert
Joon Pak, P.E., has 26 years’ experience in site engineering, stormwater management, geotechnical evaluation, erosion and sedimentation control, environmental permitting, land development plans, and landscaping and utility service coordination for a variety of clients involving new commercial building construction, retail space and infrastructure, residential developments, and new commercial lot subdivisions.
CEC Philadelphia was established in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, in March 2013. The initial focus of services was construction quality assurance (CQA) and solid waste engineering services. Since then, our service offerings have expanded in solid waste (design, permitting, CQA, project management services, and surveying), manufacturing (environmental assessment, remediation, and air quality permitting), power (air quality permitting), and public sector/real estate (civil/site engineering and landscape architecture). In July 2019, CEC acquired Cairone & Kaupp, Inc., a full-service site design firm in the area that merged landscape architecture and civil engineering. Our staff provides a broad spectrum of expertise in civil engineering, environmental engineering and sciences, waste management, and air quality. CEC is ranked #7 in Pennsylvania and #22 overall on the 2022 ENR Mid-Atlantic Top Design Firms list.