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Green City Clean Waters

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Join Us in Making Germantown's Bringhurst Park Greener

Bringhurst Park has been a community gathering space for decades. Now, the space is getting a revamp to add some green and protect our local waterways. Residents and park users are invited to join us for a talk on April exploring future designs.  

UPDATE: This meeting has been moved from the park to Germantown United CDC, 5320 Germantown Ave., due to high winds and possible rain. The meeting will kick off at 5:30 p.m. as planned. Please bring your ideas!

Thanks to our Green City, Clean Waters program, thousands of green tools like rain gardens and stormwater tree planters across the city soak up tens of millions of gallons of stormwater runoff each time we have a substantial storm.

Germantown is already home to a number of these projects, but many more green stormwater improvements are planned for the neighborhood in the coming years. Dozens of residents came out to learn about plans for these projects and provided input during our October 2017 open house at the Happy Hollow Recreation Center.

As part of ongoing efforts to involve residents in designing these planned green improvements, we are currently working with neighbors and others who use Bringhurst Park, located across the street from the John Wister Elementary School at Bringhurst and Wakefield, to revamp the space and add stormwater management features.

A meeting to discuss the project and collect feedback about possible improvements will be held at the park on Wednesday, April 4 at 5:30 p.m.

In the event of rain or other bad weather, we will meet at the Germantown United Community Development Corporation, located at 5320 Germantown Ave.

Sign up for the Philadelphia Water Department Germantown green projects email list here to be notified if the meeting is moved and to get alerts about other local projects and events.

We’re Wild About ‘Wonders of Water’: Come See PWD at the Flower Show!

Over here at the Philadelphia Water Department, there’s no shortage of people who proudly wear the “water geek” badge, and we’ve also got more than a few proponents of all things green and growing.

So, you can imagine our delight after learning that the theme of the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show would be Wonders of Water.

After all, PWD has been a wonder of the water world from the beginning: our Fairmount Water Works drinking water plant—surrounded by famous gardens with fountains and sculpture—drew curious visitors like Charles Dickens and Mark Twain from around the globe in the 1800s.

Now that the show’s final weekend is upon us, we can say that Wonders of Water has more than lived up to our nerdiest H2O dreams and grandest go-green expectations.

Whether it’s the lush rainforest spilling over with waterfalls or the far-out landscape of giant cacti showcasing flowers that thrive with almost no water at all, each exhibit is an exquisite exploration of the liquid that makes all plant life on Earth possible.

We got so excited for this year’s water theme, we even created an exhibit for visitors to explore—Home Green Home.

It’s a slice of a Philadelphia block transplanted to the Convention Center floor to showcase all the ways in which a local home interacts with water, from a bright flower-filled stormwater bumpout on the curb to the hidden pipes bringing drinking water to the tap and taking used water away.

'Home Green Home' at The Philadelphia Flower Show

There’s lots of signage to provide inside info and each point of interest in the display has a tip to help you protect water, so be sure to stop by and say hello if you’re coming—as long as supplies last, we’ll have Coreopsis seed packets to encourage natural stormwater gardens at home.

PWD will also have iPads where you can share your thoughts about drinking water quality.

The show runs through Sunday, March 11 and is at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch Streets. PWD’s Home Green Home is located just to the right of the PHS Shop beyond the Grand Exhibit.

If you come in through the Marriot gates above the Jefferson Station entrance at 11th and Market, look for a fun cut-out prop where you can pose as Water Woman, PWD’s trash and pollution fighting hydration superhero.

More Water-Geek Goodies
Of course, Home Green Home is not the only cool place to learn about local water issues at the Philadelphia Flower Show: look for more great stuff like Window on the Watershed, a big installation created through the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative and the Alliance for Watershed Education.

At this exhibit, you’ll meet with members of local waterways groups like the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership and encounter “ecological lessons and stories of our own complex freshwater system—the Delaware River Watershed.”

There’s also Down the Drain, showcasing landscaping options—many of which you can get funding for through our Rain Check program—that you can use to manage stormwater and make your home more beautiful.

Be sure to check these out too:

The World’s Drinking Water by American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD)
This look at select countries that don’t have access to clean drinking water brings awareness to how precious clean drinking water is and how scarce access is for most people in the world. Countries are represented by intricate designs inspired by beautiful flowers.

Urbanization Meets Naturalization by Mercer County Community College Horticulture Program
In a world where our homes often encroach on nature, we need to find ways to make more sustainable choices. Whether we create more permeable surfaces, harvest and utilize rainwater, or make smarter plant choices, every action is a step towards building a more natural environment in an urban setting.

“…nary a drop to drink…” by U.S. EPA Region III
This exhibit has been designed to highlight the connection between watershed protection and our precious drinking water resources. In addition to instilling beauty, the conservation and enhancement of aquatic ecosystems in our own gardens promotes clean and healthy water, while serving as a sustainable landscaping practice.

sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty səˌstānəˈbilədē by W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences
sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty səˌstānəˈbilədē depicts an urban residence with a landscape that is beautiful as well as sustainable. Features of this landscape include the use of rainwater collected in downspouts and rain barrels for plant irrigation and fountain sculptures. Solar panels are incorporated into a green roof gazebo and many novel planters are made from recycled materials. Diverse plants are displayed in the many micro-environments of this landscape from its rain gardens and hydroponic planters to its exposed roof surface.

Would You Drink the Water? by Williamson College of the Trades in partnership with Stroud Water Research Center
The seniors in Williamson College of the Trades Horticulture Program and the scientists at the Stroud Water Research Center hope you are inspired by this exhibit and learn the importance of small streams in the environment.

In this exhibit, we display some of the best management practices for improving water and habitat quality in small streams, which is where pollutants typically enter the waterway.

Forest buffers on streambanks keep pollutants from entering streams and provide leaves as food and shade to keep streams cool. The exhibit shows how riparian buffers play a critical role in improving water quality, providing aquatic and wildlife habitats for many species.

New ‘Quiz,’ Website to Jumpstart Your Discounted 2018 Green Home Upgrade

Click this image to visit the new Rain Check site and answer a few questions that will help you find the best discounted green stormwater improvement for your home.
The updated Rain Check website offers customized options for residents interested in free or discounted green improvements offered through the Philadelphia Water Department Rain Check program. Visit

Rain Check—our program best known for providing City residents with free rain barrels—is entering its sixth year with a new website designed to encourage more home landscaping projects that protect local waterways.

By visiting the new Rain Check site, residents can now get a jumpstart on sustainable projects in the new year by discovering the best green upgrade for their property, right from their phone or computer.

“More than 3,500 Philly homes now have rain barrels or other green stormwater tools thanks to Rain Check, so there’s clearly an appetite for sustainable home improvement projects in our city,” says program manager and PWD employee Jeanne Waldowski. “With this new website, we’re giving people who are thinking big about ‘greening’ their home in 2018 the tools they need to make it happen.”

While free rain barrels are the most popular tool installed through Rain Check, the program also provides deep discounts on a range of green upgrades that lessen a home’s stormwater pollution footprint.

Using fresh features on the new website, homeowners can explore whether a rain barrel, planter, or more involved green upgrade—such as a rain garden or rain-absorbing back patio—is a good fit for their property. After deciding what tool is the best option for shrinking their property’s stormwater pollution footprint, residents can sign up for an upcoming workshop.

The free educational workshops, held in neighborhoods across the city, are mandatory to receive a free rain barrel or participate in Rain Check cost-sharing.

Check it Out: Take a quick quiz that will help you pick a project now

Rain Check

“People don’t always have time to come to one of our free Rain Check workshops just to find out that their property doesn’t qualify for a rain barrel or other green tool, so we designed the new site in a way that will help residents find out in advance what will work best on their property,” says Waldowski. “By taking a short quiz about their property, people can quickly find out if Rain Check is a good fit and what options are available.”

Qualifying projects can receive up to $2,000 through Rain Check cost-sharing.

We owe Philly's Clean Water Champions 1,000 (Green) Thank Yous

RSVP now for an Oct. 12 celebration marking 1000 Greened Acres. Come to City Hall from 6 to 830 p.m.

You're invited to celebrate...

1,000 Greened Acres.

Can you soak that in? Philly has created one thousand Greened Acres.

Yes, it’s impressive … but you want to know the best part? YOU did it: One rain garden, one Rain Check workshop and one Soak It Up Adoption cleanup at a time, Philly’s community groups, residents, businesses, institutions and Green City, Clean Waters partners made it possible to mark this milestone achievement—1,000 Greened Acres.

On Oct. 12 at City Hall, Mayor Jim Kenney, City officials and the Philadelphia Water Department will recognize you and all the other green champions who laid the foundation for Green City, Clean Waters and worked with us to achieve cleaner waterways for all Philadelphians.
Let us know if you'll be there + invite friends:

RSVP now for an Oct. 12 celebration marking 1000 Greened Acres. Come to City Hall from 6 to 830 p.m.

Thanks to your support and hard work, the green tools spread throughout our neighborhoods are soaking up nearly 28 million gallons of stormwater every time Philly gets an inch of rain.

During a typcial year of weather, that adds up to more than 1.6 billion gallons of polluted water being kept out of our rivers and creeks.

It’s a big step, but we're just getting started. To reach our goal of building 9,500+ Greened Acres and reducing sewer overflows by 85 percent by 2036, we'll need strong community advocates and green champions like you more than ever.

That’s why we want you to join us in the City Hall Courtyard: Philly can do it—but not without YOU!

Get a Preview of Germantown’s Greener Future at October Happy Hollow Open House

More than 100 sites in Germantown will be getting green improvements much like this rain garden at the Washington Lane station in the next two years. Residents who want to get involved shout make their voices heard now. Photo: Philadelphia Water Department
More than 100 sites in Germantown will be getting green improvements, much like this rain garden at the Washington Lane station, in the next two years. Residents who want to get involved should make their voices heard now. Photo: Philadelphia Water Department

The Philadelphia Water Department is hosting an open house event for residents and community groups interested in learning about dozens of green stormwater projects planned for construction in the Germantown neighborhood in the coming years.

A part of the City’s 25-year Green City, Clean Waters program, the projects are currently in the planning and design stage and include green stormwater tools such as rain gardens and stormwater tree planters.
The event will take place at the Happy Hollow Recreation Center, located at 4800 Wayne Avenue, on Tuesday, October 3. Residents are invited to stop by between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and refreshments will be served.
Those who register here will get notifications about future events highlighting Germantown projects.

An open house preview of upcoming Germantown construction projects will take place at the Happy Hollow Recreation Center, located at 4800 Wayne Avenue, on Tuesday, October 3. Residents are invited to stop by between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

With construction of the earliest projects approximately two years away, the Department’s public engagement staff are hosting the open house-style event to gather input from residents and build awareness of the coming green improvements. As is the case at other Green City, Clean Waters investment sites around the city, future community meetings will be scheduled as projects move forward.

Paint Day at Smith Playground: Learn About Green Improvements and Send Connor Barwin a Message

Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD
Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD

While Philly is mourning the news that Eagles defensive end and super citizen Connor Barwin is headed to another team, his Make the World Better Foundation has pledged to continue its good work and is moving forward on projects the fan-favorite helped to fund.

One of those projects is the renovation of West Passyunk’s Smith Playground, a total overhaul being led by the community, Parks and Recreation, the nonprofit Urban Roots, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and SERVE Philadelphia.
Barwin helped raise $150,000 for the project and then matched that amount, just as he did when helping to fund improvements at the nearby Ralph Brooks Park in 2014.

Improvements at the 7.5-acre Smith Playground will include green upgrades that support the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters program and help to protect local waterways from stormwater pollution.
On top of getting new football and baseball fields, new green stormwater tools, and improvements for the rec center building and adjacent play spaces, this site will feature a Mural Arts installation by artists Kien Nguyen and Katie Yamasaki.

Pssst: Tips for the 2017 Green City, Clean Waters Art Contest

Philly students: Do you care about protecting our drinking water and aquatic wildlife? Have artistic talent? Want to win prizes for yourself, your teachers and your school?

The 2017 Green City, Clean Waters Art Contest is now underway, and the deadline for submissions has just been extended! We want you to send your best creative work showing what people can do to protect our rivers and creeks by Friday, March 17, 2017.

Three winning drawings are selected from each of the four grade groups: K-2nd, 3rd-5th, 6th-8th, and 9th-12th.

For the last eight years, we’ve been working with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) to organize this contest—open to all K-12 students that attend public, private, or home school in Philadelphia—and that’s given us a pretty good idea about what makes for a winning entry.

Here are a few tips to guide your creativity:

Year in Review (Part One): 2016 a Big Year for Philly’s Water Stewards

Commissioner Debra A. McCarty helps a West Philly Student put on a new button at 2016 rain garden ribbon cutting event. She became the first woman to lead the department. Credit: Brian Rademaekers
Commissioner Debra A. McCarty helps a West Philly Student put on a new button at 2016 rain garden ribbon cutting event. She became the first woman to lead the department. Credit: Brian Rademaekers

Newly-elected Mayor Jim Kenney rang in 2016 in a big way by naming Debra A. McCarty Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner, making her the first woman to lead the organization in its nearly 200-year history.

That big announcement, it seems, set the tone for PWD in 2016.

It was a busy year, with lots of exciting news—big and small—for Philly’s water community, and we recently took some time to look back at all the great things happening here.

We made major investments in our infrastructure. We marked important milestones with partners and residents. We revived superheroes, and we collaborated with science-savvy brewers…

It was such a big year at PWD, we’re presenting our 2016 highlights in not one blog post, but three!

(See Part II)

Without further ado, here is the first installment of our three-part series exploring highlights from the last year, presented in no particular order:

RSVP Now to Join 10,000 Friends in Honoring Green City, Clean Waters

The Philadelphia Water Department is thrilled to receive the 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania’s Excellence in Public Infrastructure Award in recognition of the success of the Green City, Clean Waters program.

Commissioner Debra A. McCarty will accept the honor at the 2016 Commonwealth Awards, an annual fundraiser held for the 10,000 Friends group. The ceremony will take place on Tuesday, January 24 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. RSVP now. 

A “leading voice for smart growth,” 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania is a non-profit advocacy group representing a “statewide alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to creating and protecting healthy, walkable, and thriving communities that are great places to live and work.”

Drexel University will also be the inaugural recipient of the Joanne Denworth Founders Award, the highest award given by the statewide nonprofit. Drexel President John A. Fry will accept the honor and deliver keynote remarks. SEPTA will be presented with the Excellence in Community Transportation Award.

To make a donation and save a spot at the awards, visit the 10,000 Friends page and RVSP by Jan. 17.

The 2016 Commonwealth Awards showcases “the transformational impact institutions can have through creative public-private partnerships and strategic investment in placemaking projects that exemplify land use excellence.”

In 2016, the City of Philadelphia celebrated the first five years of Green City, Clean Waters, a groundbreaking green infrastructure program that protects local waterways from pollution by greening neighborhoods and improving stormwater infrastructure.

While the program is set to expand more than tenfold in the coming years, hundreds of public and private green stormwater infrastructure projects are already reducing pollution from sewer overflows and runoff by 1.5 billion gallons during a typical year.

Read more about the success of Green City, Clean Watersfirst five years here.

A ‘Truly Engaging Civic Commons’: Makers Wanted for City Hall Courtyard Installation

A new grant is helping the City connect residents to historic and modern water infrastructure investments while making the Philadelphia City Hall Courtyard a “true civic commons.”
A new grant is helping the City connect residents to historic and modern water infrastructure investments while making the Philadelphia City Hall Courtyard a “true civic commons.”

As a work of spectacular architecture and artistry, a National Historic Landmark and holder of several world records, Philadelphia’s ornate and iconic City Hall is a place that dominates the center of our city—spiritually, culturally, and, yes, geographically.

And while the most astute students of Philly lore might be able to cite William Penn statue stats (37 feet tall, 27 tons of bronze, biggest atop any building in the world) far fewer know about the site’s remarkable geological status or its pre-City Hall history as it relates to science, infrastructure and water.

A new project seeks to honor that distinction by breathing fresh life into the building’s expansive courtyard, and the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia is calling on “experienced local artisans, architects, designers, and makers” to design and build an outdoor feature that, among other things, will serve as a platform for programming and activities.

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