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Soak It Up! Adoption Program Grant

The Philadelphia Water Department, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) is piloting a new program, Soak It Up! Adoption.

The Soak It Up! Adoption Program provides grants to civic organizations to help maintain the beauty and functionality of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Recipients of the grant will be awarded $5,000 to help care for green stormwater tools by keeping the tool litter-free and ensuring that the surface of inlets and overflow drains are clear of leaves and other debris. In addition, participants track and report to PWD on both the amount and frequency of litter and debris removal from the site. PWD is very grateful to its Adoption partners for lending a hand!

For more information about Soak It Up! Adoption and to determine if your organization qualifies, visit the Philadelphia Water Department’s website.

Happy Birthday MOTU!

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Congratulations to MOTU as it wraps up the celebration of its 5th Birthday! The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) has been working hard to improve coordination among agencies and departments in the City to help Philadelphia respond to the needs of the 21st Century. MOTU recently released a new report highlighting accomplishments over the last five years.

Photo Credits:Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Among these achievements MOTU has increased mobility by expanding the bicycle and pedestrian network by investing in more bike racks, pedestrian parklets and plazas, and safer bike lanes. Over the course of five years, Philadelphia has seen a 20% reduction in traffic fatalities and 10% reduction in crashes involving pedestrians after 2,400 intersections were retimed and 400 pedestrian countdown signals installed. In addition, air travel has improved through the addition of five new airlines servicing the Philadelphia International Airport.

Photo Credits:Rick McMullin

 MOTU has also been a key partner in implementing PWD’s Green City, Clean Waters program. This collaboration has resulted in the installation of 1100 green acres, reducing stormwater runoff by 500 million gallons annually.This year, there are even more projects underway, including 161 stormwater trenches, 33 stormwater bumpouts, and 33 projects utilizing porous pavement.

Photo Credits:Schuylkill Banks

MOTU’s efforts have not only improved conditions in the city but have also resulted in taxpayer savings. To date, the program has been awarded about $91 million in competitive grants from federal, state and non-profit sources.

To learn more about all of MOTU’s accomplishments and find out about future projects, read their report. Happy Birthday MOTU!

Congratulations to Our 2013 Spokesdog Winners!

On Saturday, October 19th, fifteen Spokesdog finalists from two participating neighborhoods (Fitler Square and University City) came out to compete for one crown. After careful consideration of which dog would make the best Spokesdog, judges announced and crowned the winners!

Josie, the 2013 Spokesdog from Fitler Square

Sophie, the 2013 Spokesdog from University City

Josie, a Beagle from Fitler Square and Sophie, an Australian Shepherd from University City, took home the titles for 2013 Spokesdog!

Each 2013 Spokesdog took home $200 worth of prizes from local businesses and will be featured on a number of brochures, advertisements, websites, etc. In addition, winning Spokesdogs will serve as ambassadors to the City for living the eco-friendly life and will attend at least three community events over the upcoming year.

These two dogs will help educate pet owners and their furry buddies about the importance of picking up dog waste in order to keep our streams and rivers clean.

Congratulations again to the winners and thanks to all the dog owners, judges, and participants in this year’s Spokesdog contest!

View more photos from the 2013 Spokesdog Crowning Ceremonies.

Marking Storm Drains With TTF and Hackley School!

Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, Inc. (TTF) is dedicated to enhancing the health and vitality of the TTF Watershed, including neighborhoods Philadelphia and Abington, Cheltenham, Jenkintown, Rockledge, and Springfield in Montgomery County. They work with residents, schools, community organizations, environmental advisory councils, businesses and policy makers to build watershed awareness.

On Thursday October 3rd, TTF teamed up with 7th graders from Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY to mark 150 stormwater drains with stickers that say “No Dumping, Drains to River” to help raise awareness in the surrounding neighborhood about where litter goes when it enters the drain. In addition to marking drains, students picked up litter and leftflyers for residents, informing them about watersheds and combined sewer systems.

Representatives from PWD also helped mark drains and brought an interactive model to demonstrate how combined sewers work. Students poured glittered water, representing waste water, into the model home and watched it travel down the pipe, get filtered and returned to the river. However, when they added rain to the streets at the same time as “using water” in the house, they learned that excess stormwater caused the system to overflow, sending diluted waste into the river. After all the fun, everyone wrapped up a day with pretzels and apple cider.

Penn State Students Work on Green Stormwater Infrastructure Projects

Image by Chelsea Scott

Saturday, October 5, Penn State students and volunteers helped restore two green stormwater infrastructure projects –a rain garden and a stormwater bumpout-- on Lancaster Avenue. “The two sites we worked on weren’t functioning properly. So we fixed them, prettied them up, mulched, planted — the whole shebang,” said Tommy McCann, an urban agriculture coordinator and horticultural educator at Penn State.

The idea for the volunteer day began when organizers from Penn State met with the Philadelphia Water Department to discuss possible partnerships and to tour stormwater infrastructure sites that PWD had plans to improve, including the rain garden and bumpout on Lancaster Ave. This cleanup day is part of a bigger initiative by Penn State Public Media to produce a documentary that tells the story of how cities acrossthe United States are learning to manage stormwater with green infrastructure. PennState plans to release the film, Water Blues Green Solutions, in late 2013.

Read more about PennState’s work on Lancaster Avenue and check out the preview for the Philadelphia segment of the Water Blues Green Solutions documentary.

Coming Soon: Grants for Managing Stormwater on Your Commercial Property

PWD is happy to announce the next round of Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) grants. The Water Department works with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) to provide funding to stimulate investment in stormwater best management practices to mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff. Only non-residential properties are eligible. Projects are evaluated based on criteria including, but not limited to, the total volume of runoff managed, expected benefits, and the ability of the grantee to leverage other funding sources. Grant requests are limited to $100,000 per impervious acre managed or less. Applications will be available on November 1st on PIDC’s website. Applicationsmust be submitted by noon on January 31st, 2014. Applicants will be notified by July 1, 2014 if their applications have been accepted. To read more, and see if you qualify for the SMIP grant, visit the Water Department’s website here.

The Legacy of the Spokesdog Continues!

When pet waste is left on the ground, rainwater or melted snow washes it into our storm drains and into the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, harming the health of the water. But the Spokesdog is out to change that! Philly Water’s Best Friend is on a mission to keep our waterways clean by encouraging dog owners to pick up after their pets.

Every year, a new dog is chosen to carry on the legacy of the Spokesdog and continue to improve the health of Philadelphia’s waterways. Come see which dog will win this year! Out of our 15 finalists from Fitler Square and University City, only one dog from each neighborhood will be crowned as a 2013 Spokesdog. The crowning of the Fitler Square dog will take place on Saturday, October 19, at the Schuylkill River Park from 11am to 12pm, followed by the University City dog from 1pm to 2pm. Come out to cheer on your favorite dog and win free treats and giveaways for you and your favorite furry friend!

Learn more about the Philly Spokesdog Competition.

One of the 2012 Philly's Best Friend Spokesdogs, Scooter

PWD Tours at Greenbuild!

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Did you know that the Philadelphia Water Department is leading a tour during Greenbuildon November 23rd from 8am to noon titled, “Revolutionary Civil Engineering: Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Leadership?” The Water Department has been recognized internationally for its leadership in implementing green stormwater infrastructure and in developing innovative stormwater management and energy solutions at its treatment plants. This is your chance to visit our projects with us! Please join us as we highlight our projects at several sites around the city and reveal the collaborations, expertise and spirit vital to urban sustainability.

Tour stops include a visit to the PWD biogas cogeneration water treatment facility and a recreation center that manages 1.2 acres of runoff and has helped to revitalize a neighborhood and a garden and playground located on a former brownfield site. Water Department leaders will provide details and context for each site as well as a description of the policies, strategies and incentives that impact Philadelphia city-wide. One of the tour goals is to give participants insight into the power of partnership, demonstrating how - government/municipal agencies can partner with communities and the private sector to implement green stormwater infrastructure together. If you’re interested in attending the Water Department’s Tour, you can get tickets online here, where you can also view other tours hosted by the Delaware Valley Greenbuild Council.

We hope to see you there!

Greenbuild 2013 is coming to Philadelphia

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The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is more than excited to be a part of the 2013 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Activities around Greenbuild will go on for almost a week and expect to draw up to 30,000 attendees. The theme, “Greenbuild Nation”, draws on Philadelphia’s roots as the birthplace of the nation.

Greenbuild activities begin on Monday, November 18th with tours of Philadelphia’s sustainable buildings and neighborhoods, including PWD’s own facilities that produce energy from wastewater and the sun. The Conference and Expo run from November 20-22nd showcasing the latest in green building innovative products and services, as well as educational sessions and special seminars. On November 21st at 3:30, PWD will be leading a session called “Reinventing Philadelphia Through Green Infrastructure”. Participants will learn about Green City, Clean Waters, PWD’s plan to invest $2 billion over 25 years in green stormwater infrastructure to create a more sustainable, healthier and livable city. As the first city to receive approval from the EPA to implement this type of program, its success has implications for government officials, product suppliers, and a variety of building professionals. Register for the conference.

If you aren’t up to buying full conference and expo tickets, you can also catch PWD at the half and full day tours on Monday the 18th, Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23rd. These tours are a great low price options for those who want to explore Greenbuild and experience great projects! Check out the full list of featured tours. Be sure to register ASAP, space is limited!

China and Japan Visit Philadelphia's Green Infrastructure

Philadelphia’s stormwater management and stream restoration projects reached international ears this month! On September 17th government representatives from Beijing toured the Big Green Block in the Kensington/Fishtown area and two days later members of the Japanese Ecosystem Conservation Society visited Wises Mill in Andorra and the Bells Mill tributary to Wissahickon Park.

Beijing Delegation

The Beijing delegation included 20 officials representing ten  of the sixteen Beijing provinces, led by the mayor of the Pinggu district in Beijing. Officials from the China Association of Mayors and the China Center for International Economic Exchange accompanied the group. Following a presentation by the Philadelphia Water Department about Green City, Clean Waters, the delegation  set off to the Big Green Block to learn about the projects from community partners. PWD engineer, Evan Wilbert, also explained how stormwater tree trenches, rain gardens, porous pavement and the green roofs on Kensington CAPA high-school help manage stormwater runoff. This project embodies the spirit of public-private partnerships  and helped provide the Beijing delegation with ideas on how multiple entities can come together to create a high-impact, sustainable project.

Ecosystem Conservation Society

On Thursday, September 19th, members of the Japanese Ecosystem Conservation Society toured Wises Mill and Bells Mill. The Japanese representatives were on a national tour of inspiring environmental programs and they made Philadelphia their first stop! Both sites are major projects for PWD as Wises Mill is a model stormwater wetland and Bells Mill exemplifies natural stream restoration. After a presentation by PWD staff, the Friends of Wissahickon staff shared insight on the importance of non-profits, fund-raising and public-private partnerships and the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation staff provided information about the local flora and the history of Fairmount Park.

Both groups enjoyed their tours and learned a lot about our green infrastructure projects. To see more pictures from these events, check out the slideshow below!

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