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Questions About the Proposed Water Rates? We Have Answers.

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You know when we use the PWD logo as a graphic, things are about to get official. So here we go: The Philadelphia Water Department is seeking a rate change in order to maintain the city's top-quality water, alleviate flooding, meet regulatory requirements, and improve the quality of local rivers and streams. The proposed new rates, phased in over a four-year period, will fund measures to help protect residents from stormwater flooding and to reduce water main leaks and breaks that can damage property. If approved, increases will take effect in October 2012. Visit our Rates page for more information, fact sheets and FAQs about the rate change.

Some quick facts:

  • The Philadelphia Water Department has some of the lowest rates in the region for water, wastewater and stormwater services, even with the proposed rate revisions.
  • PWD is constantly seeking ways to save money and reduce costs. At our water treatment plants, a solar array and a forthcoming biogas co-generation project will help reduce energy costs.

Most Sustainable In Show: PWD Flower Show Display Wins Sustainability Award

The 2012 International Flower Show, which wrapped up last week, aimed to take visitors on a trip to Hawaii. The Philadelphia Water Department's display, however, kept it right here in Philly, demonstrating how green roofs, rain gardens and other green infrastructure can beautify our city while managing stormwater runoff that pollutes our rivers and streams. Scale models of some of Philly's most famous buildings show how green the city could be, earning the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Sustainability Award for the exhibit demonstrating the best use of sustainable gardening practices to the public.

Visit PWD's Facebook page to see more photos.


Good For Business: New Grant Program Helps Business Improvement Districts Manage Stormwater

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Are you a Business Improvement District, Neighborhood Improvement District, or Special Services District in the city of Philadelphia? You could be eligible for grant funding to implement stormwater management on non-residential parcels. The SMIP BID1 Grant was created by the city of Philadelphia through PIDC2 and PWD3 to fund green stormwater infrastructure feasibility studies. Visit our Stormwater Management Incentives Program page to learn more about the program and to apply for the grant.

1Stormwater Management Incentives Program Business Improvement District

2Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation

3Philadelphia Water Department. Seriously, you knew this one.

Talkin' 'Bout Cogeneration

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Don't let the painfully boring photo1 of the Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant fool you—exciting things are happening in Bridesburg. The Philadelphia Water Department has hired Ameresco Inc. to design, build and maintain a biogas-burning cogeneration plant at the Northeast facility. It's estimated that the energy produced from the biogas (a natural byproduct of sewage treatment) will save $12 million over the course of the 16-year contract. And, yes, people are talking about it:

Philadelphia Inquirer:

"The $47.5 million project will generate 5.6 megawatts of electricity and thermal energy for use at the treatment plant. Michael T. Bakas, Ameresco's senior vice president, said the project is sized based upon projections about how much biogas is produced from the decomposition of sewage in the plant's digesters."

Philadelphia Business Journal:

"The contract calls for Ameresco (NYSE:AMRC), which is based in Framingham, Mass., to pay the cost of the project up front and get reimbursed over time from the savings on energy costs that the facility produces for the Water Department."

Yahoo! Finance:

“'This project is an example of PWD’s commitment to develop waste recovery programs at all of our facilities as part of our pledge to be a sustainable and cost-conscious utility,'” remarked Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug. 'Recovering the hidden fuel in our wastewater treatment processes helps to diversify our energy portfolio, while improving the environment through innovative, green technology. The Northeast Cogeneration facility demonstrates PWD's national leadership in transforming the traditional wastewater plant into the resource recovery facility of the future.'”

Cogeneration & On-Site Power Production:

"The project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by nearly 22,000 tonnes per year, which equates to the removal of 4,833 cars off the road or the planting of 5,390 acres of pine forest."

1Really, guys? I mean, we didn't expect beauty, but the PWD photography corps couldn't at least get a picture of the front of the plant?

News Stream: Philadelphia a Leader on Clean Water

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An excellent piece in Monday's Inquirer by David S. Beckman, who directs the water program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, highlights Philadelphia's cost-saving green approach to the urban stormwater problem:

"In many parts of the country, this polluted torrent overloads sewage treatment facilities, causing them to overflow and make matters worse. An estimated 10 trillion gallons of dirty runoff ends up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans annually, making storm water one of the nation's greatest sources of water pollution.

Fortunately, cities such as Philadelphia have quietly begun to solve this problem in a way that could transform urban landscapes from coast to coast. In fact, the City of Brotherly Love is at the forefront of a national trend toward embracing urban design strategies, called 'green infrastructure,' that can slash water pollution, provide flood protection, beautify communities, and cut infrastructure and energy costs."

Click here for the full article.

Philly Students, Get With the Flow: Apply by March 1

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Project Flow is a six-week summer program for rising 9th graders at public and private schools to explore water as artists, scientists, historians, and social activists. A partnership between the Germantown Friends School and the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, Project Flow will run from June 25 to August 3, 2012 at the Interpretive Center. There are many field trips, a two-night canoe trip and plenty of opportunity to sharpen reading, writing, mapping, science and art skills. Applications for this summer are due March 1. Click here to go directly to the applications page.

Making News: Green City, Clean Waters Media Roundup

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We missed this one from a while back: Glen Abrams, PWD's Manager of Policy and Strategic Initiatives, appeared on Comcast's Newsmakers program to talk about Green City, Clean Waters:

News Stream: Spokesdog Deadline Approaching

While the field of spokesdog contestants gets bigger and more competitive every day (some recent entries are pictured above), the deadline for registering your dog in the Philly Water's Best Friend competition in Queen Village and Northern Liberties is nipping at our heels. Register your dog by February 15 to participate in the chance to win prizes and educate Philly dogs about the importance of picking up pet waste in order to keep our rivers and streams clean.

As this Newsworks article notes, Philly voted in its Schuylkill River spokesdogs last year—now it's the Delaware's turn to elect its ambassadogs.

Seriously: Twin Cities Tap Water

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Here's a short list of things you should know about Minneapolis' campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of tap water:

  • The videos online at Tap Minneapolis are great. It's awards season—throw a gold-plated faucet statue at them or something.
  • That's just how Minnesotans talk.
  • There are big Snoopy statues around Minneapolis, birthplace of Charles Schulz.
  • If you drink bottled water, you are paying about $10 a gallon. Seriously.

Green Streets Start With Clean Streets

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As public-service campaigns go, the Streets Department's UnLitter Us initiative is making a huge impact around the city. You can see the UnLitter Us ads (featuring text from some of Philly's most gifted urban poets) at SEPTA stations and on buses, trains and subways; on TV and radio and the web. We'd like to chime in and mention that litter isn't just an aesthetic blight on street surfaces—it impacts our streams and rivers as well. For instance, trash causes major problems for PWD's green stormwater infrastructure; when litter blocks inlets to tree trenches and stormwater planters, water doesn't get a chance to infiltrate those systems and keep our sewer overflows in check. Litter also negatively affects the quality of water that drains into our sewers, and when storm drains get blocked due to excess trash, water is more likely to pond or flood roadways.

Get involved with the UnLitter Us campaign and visit its YouTube page.

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