Waterway Arts Initiative

Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood is among the most impacted areas in the nation for infrastructure-related flooding over the last several decades.

Germantown sits in the basin of Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley. Some low-lying areas of the neighborhood experience significant flooding because homes and streets were built over creeks in the late 19th century, such as Wingohocking Creek. This type of flooding is called infrastructure flooding or urban flash flooding. During large storms, underground sewers quickly become overwhelmed. Water flows out of the sewers and into streets and properties. Floodwater can back up out of storm drains, utility holes, and plumbing fixtures, such as toilets or drains in basements. This issue has led to the devastation of homes and human fatalities.

The 2024 Waterway Arts Initiative is a joint partnership of the Philadelphia Water Department, the Academy of Natural Sciences, and Mural Arts Philadelphia, drawing on the power of coalition-building and storytelling in critical flood-prone areas of Northwest Philadelphia. Led by curators Phoebe Bachman & Ryan Strand Greenberg, the project brings together a creative team including data scientists, Germantown Flood Task Force members, and artists, who will host  teach-ins and workshops at key sites in the community. Together, the team will co-develop a series participatory events and artistic interventions focused on flooding and the emotional toll that the issue takes on residents, bringing the infrastructure and stories "above ground." These projects and programs will be hosted across the city, spanning grassroots and institutional contexts to raise awareness of crucial flooding issues in the Philadelphia region.

For more information about the flood issues in Germantown, please visit: https://water.phila.gov/blog/germantown-flooding-task-force/

Artist Leads
Naomieh Jovin, Kaitlin Pomerantz
Community Leads
Maura Jarvis, Reverend Williams
Science Leads
Alexis Schulman, Winn Costantini, Akilah Chatman
Phoebe Bachman, Ryan Strand Greenberg
Project Manager
Keisha Whatley
Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia Water Department, Mural Arts Program
Philadelphia Water Department