Q. How do I work with the city of Philadelphia to get access to water for my community garden?

I belong to a group of gardeners who have a community garden in Philadelphia.


Here are two methods for obtaining water:

Filling Water Barrels

Sometimes the Philadelphia Fire Department will fill a 55- gallon food grade barrel for a garden. However, this access is not always available. Check with the Fire House nearest your garden. See link below to search a map.

Fire Hydrant Access

It is possible to obtain fire hydrant access for your community garden, but know that it's a bit complicated. Community garden groups need to obtain access both from L & I (Department of Licenses and Inspection) and PWD (Philadelphia Water Department).

All community gardens must receive permission to use a hydrant, and to apply for a permit,  from the L & I  plumbing department, located in the Municipal Services Bldg.,  1401 JFK Blvd , basement. Hours are 8 am – 3 pm.  

Here is the procedure:

Contact George Stokes at the Philadelphia Water Department ( PWD) to get on the list for  approval for fire hydrant access and to obtain a Hydrant Locked Box.  Here is contact information:

Hydrant Locked Box Contact: George Stokes in the Philadelphia Water Department,  email: george.stokes@phila.gov  ; phone, 215-685-6252.

George Stokes suggests that people email him the name of the garden group, a contact person’s name and phone number, and the location of the hydrant to be used. Then a Philadelphia Water Department employee will go out and check the hydrant and then get back to the contact person. (There are a limited number of hydrant locked boxes available).

If there are no hydrant locked boxes available, then the garden group will need to provide their own Back Flow Preventer, Hydrant cap and wrench. The Hydrant cap attaches to opening for hose access and the wrench is needed  to open top button. (Take note - top of hydrant can be a triangular metal piece or a round button).

The Back Flow costs $225 and is available @ Granger 7th & Arch.  It must be the correct PWD / L & I approved RPZ type.  Watts #009QT  @ Grainger is item # 6LL73 $ 225

The group must bring proof that they've purchased the correct Back Flow to L & I. (address above) when they apply for the permit. (Proof of purchase consists of supplying either the invoice, with correct item number on it, or a photo of the Back Flow with the item number visible). Additionally, the group must be on the approved list that George Stokes handles.  

  • Last Updated Jan 08, 2019
  • Views 888
  • Answered By Janet Evans

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