Rain Check is one of the Philadelphia Water Department’s programs for residents. Through this program PWD helps residents manage stormwater at their homes. Participants can get a rain barrel installed for free and/or get a downspout planter, rain garden or permeable paving installed at a reduced price. Click here for more information!
Sign-up online to attend a one-hour educational workshop. Everyone who participates in Rain Check must attend a workshop. If you are unsure about which stormwater tool is right for you, try using our Pick Your Project tool to learn more about the different options and how they best fit your home, needs, and budget. After answering a brief set of questions, you can easily proceed to the workshop sign-up form.
There are many benefits to participating in Rain Check. Here are a few:
No, participation in Rain Check will not lower your stormwater bill. However, by managing stormwater runoff at home, every resident can make a difference in helping to protect the health of our waterways. Also, reusing water stored in your rain barrel could help you conserve water and lower your usage.
Rain Barrels are free. Metal downspout planters cost $100 and wood downspout planters cost $250. The cost of other landscaping tools varies depending on the tool and your home. PWD will pay for a portion of the installation cost. Please view our Stormwater Tools page to learn more about the tools and their costs.
Downspout planters, rain gardens and masonry projects require at $25 non-refundable deposit in advance of a consultation with the contractor. This deposit goes towards the total cost of your tool.
Full property assessments cost property owners $25. The $25 fee is non-refundable and is not credited towards the installation cost of your tool. However, people who choose a full property assessment will receive a complete report explaining all the options for stormwater management at their homes.
Yes. PWD will provide up to $2,000 per home. All properties must be residential. You may also install a free rain barrel along with any other stormwater tool.
Yes. Renters may sign up for Rain Check, but the owner of the property must sign the Stormwater Tool Waiver prior to the installation of the tool.
Yes. Rain Check participants can install one rain barrel and one other stormwater tool. If you’d like to install additional tools, you can, but PWD will not pay more than $2,000 towards the total installation cost.
Rain Check participants cannot replace any part of the public sidewalk in front of their homes through this program. In addition, the Rain Check program is not suitable for publicly-owned alleyways.
When you remove concrete or asphalt that has been in place for a long time, it exposes the soil underneath. We recommend a follow-up treatment, but if you choose to leave the soil bare – be sure you know your soil is safe. Download our Lead in Soil Factsheet (English / Spanish) for more information.
Stormwater assessments typically take about 1-1.5 hours, and you should plan to be present during that time. The assessor will talk with you and then walk around the outside of your home to see what stormwater tools could work on your property. After the appointment, the assessor will e-mail a completed report that recommends the appropriate stormwater tool or tools for your home.
Consultations with the installation contractor typically take a half hour to an hour. During the consultation, the contractor will discuss the work with you so that he or she can prepare a written cost estimate.
In most cases, PHS will assign a contractor to your job based on what tool you are installing and your location in the city. However, if you would like to choose the contractor, please review the list of Rain Check contractors and let us know who you’d like to work with. Please note that projects must be assigned by Rain Check staff, so contractors will not be able to schedule visits if you contact them directly. We do not allow you to select your contractor for a rain barrel installation.
Participants may request a second consultation at the $25 price point if necessary. However, we pay for each consultation a homeowner receives so we try to keep this to a minimum. If you wish to get a third consultation, you must pay the full consultation fee of $200.
All installation contractors must be pre-qualified by the Rain Check program prior to joining our contractor network. Interested contractors should contact Fran Lawn (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Sustainable Business Network for more information.
Most stormwater tools do not require a lot of maintenance, but there are important things to keep in mind. See below for more information about maintenance for your tool.
Visit our Place Order page for more information.
You can find these products at your at your local big box home improvement store or their website. We recommend calling first to verify they can accommodate your request.
Rain Check rain barrels are blue, food-grade, repurposed rain barrels which hold 55 gallons of water. The barrels are purchased and assembled locally reducing our carbon footprint as well as creating jobs for local businesses. All Rain Check rain barrels have a non-removable lid to prevent mosquitoes and to ensure child safety.
The barrels measure approximately 22 ½ “ in diameter by 36 ½ “ tall. The barrel bows out in the middle to approximately 24” in diameter. Barrels can vary slightly in precise dimensions, but all are 55-gallon capacity.
The proper attachments are included with the rain barrel.
We recommend raising the rain barrel on an elevated base to increase the water pressure needed for hose use. Without a base, barrels can settle into the ground on a soft surface like grass or dirt.
You will need to have the rain barrel platform in place on the day of installation. We recommend purchasing 2-4 cinder blocks and placing them in the location where the rain barrel is to be installed. The platform should be level and no taller than 18 inches. A platform or base may not necessary if the barrel will be installed on a hard surface like cement, although raising the barrel will help increase water pressure needed for hose use.
Due to the high demand we can only offer one rain barrel per household.
A Rain Check contractor will install your rain barrel for you. Most installations are scheduled at the Rain Check workshops. If you did not schedule your installation at a workshop, email Rosemary Howard at email@example.com to set up an installation time.
Our rain barrels are fully enclosed, so there is no standing water available for mosquitoes to breed.
A soaker hose is like a garden hose except designed to be porous and “leak” water down the whole length of the hose. Coil the hose around the base of a large plant you want to water or snake it through your flower beds. When the water is flowing it will slowly soak the ground and go directly to the roots instead of splashing all over the plant. A soaker hose can be attached to your rain barrel with the spigot left slightly open.
You will receive an instruction package at the time of install with maintenance information. One of the most important things to do is to drain the barrel in the winter and put in the winterization plug. Don’t forget to empty your rain barrel between storms to maximize collection of stormwater.
Our goal is to have your barrel installed two weeks to one month after you attend a workshop.
Yes. Personalizing your rain barrel makes a great art project. You can use any outdoor paint. For spray painting, we recommend using a product that specifically advertises that it “bonds to plastic.” For tips on how to paint your rain barrel, follow one of these easy guides:
Note: These measurements do not include the trim around the top of the planter which adds approximately 1.5” to each side of the box. In addition, all boxes are 2’ high. The final height of the box will be greater once it is placed on blocks.
Width x Length | Approximate Storage Volume
1.5’ X 3’ | 29 gallons
1.5’ X 4’ | 34 gallons
2’ X 2’ | 24 gallons
2’ X 4’ | 46 gallons
The metal downspout planter is 2 feet high.
Width x Length | Approximate Storage Volume
2’ x 4’ | 78 gallons
No. Downspout planters are very heavy once installed. Without fully evaluating the construction of your deck, roof or roof deck, we cannot determine if the structure would support the planter. For this reason we only install downspout planters at ground level.
Yes, you can install a downspout planter on your front sidewalk as long as it does not extend beyond your front steps or block the pedestrian right of way and drainage can be conveyed back to the sewer system. Downspout planters cannot drain to the public sidewalk due to the potential of creating ice in the winter.
Our wood planters are built out of pressure-treated lumber, lined with EPDM pond liner, and finished with PVC plumbing components. The metal downspout planter is made of galvanized metal and also includes PVC plumbing components.
Plants will be selected based on the sun conditions you request when placing your order. All plants are drought-tolerant perennial or grass species that should do well with the moisture conditions in the planter. PHS also aims to provide low maintenance, native species when possible. Please note that plants are complementary through Rain Check and specific plant selections are not guaranteed. For species recommendations, see the Downspout Planter Planting Guide.