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News Stream

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Dog Days: Countdown to the Philly Water's Best Friend Competition

Queen Village and Northern Liberties dog owners: Only 26 days left to register your pooch for the Philly Water's Best Friend competition! The dogs pictured above are only some of the entries in the contest to be the Philadelphia Water Department's spokesdog, an honor that comes with perks, prizes and the responsibility of teaching others to clean up pet waste and keep our rivers and streams clean. Registration ends February 15—don't miss your chance to enter your dog, have an online profile made and participate in the online voting process (which starts March 1) and awards ceremony in your neighborhood.

Visit our spokesdog page to learn more about the competition and register your dog (come on, Queen Village—NoLibs is way ahead of you).

When The SMIP Comes In: $5 Million In Grants To Businesses And Non-Profits For Stormwater Management

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The Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) was created to help businesses and non-profits green large, impervious properties and unburden the city's sewer system from high volumes of stormwater runoff. Today, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) are pleased to announce $5 million in grants to promote stormwater management projects, including rain gardens, vegetated infiltration basins, porous asphalt and green roofs.

The SMIP grant is an important part of the Green City, Clean Waters plan, which includes an ambitious goal to convert 9,500 impervious acres to “green acres” that capture and manage the first inch of stormwater runoff to achieve beautiful, fishable, clean and healthy rivers and streams. The grant will also allow businesses, non-profit organizations and other non-residential customers to reduce their stormwater rates by providing funding for the design and implementation of these green infrastructure projects.

PWD, PIDC and the City of Philadelphia Commerce Department will be hosting grant workshops through February. Information on times and locations will be posted on PIDC’s website shortly. Applications are due March 31, 2012.

For more information, click here.

Green City, Clean Waters Art Contest Open to Philly Students

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Picasso's Blue Period was OK, we suppose, but we think green will be the color of choice for up-and-coming Philadelphia artists for the next 25 years or so. That's the duration of the Philadelphia Water Department's Green City, Clean Waters plan, the inspiration for a new art contest open to Philly students grades K-12. Students can submit a drawing, short video or both, portraying the ways in which we can protect our local waterways through environmentally friendly practices. The deadline for entries is February 24; prizes include gift cards, art supplies, certificates and calendars. Our friends at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary are administering the contest; visit their site for more information and guidelines.

River Wardens: Students Learn How to Protect the Schuylkill

The Schuylkill Action Network has announced its eighth annual student contest for projects related to drinking water protection in the Schuylkill watershed. A recent Newsworks article highlighted some of the details of the contest:

"Since the founding of the [Schuylkill Action Network], it has highlighted students' projects that have a direct impact on the drinking water in the Schuylkill watershed. Projects in the past have included water quality testing of local creeks, classroom discussion of environmental stewardship with journals, student participation in creating a campus rain garden and many more.

The contestants are entered to win the Schuykill Scholastic Drinking Water Award. The award recognizes schools, colleges, and universities that protect drinking water sources through hands-on educational programs, class projects or land management practices."

Students in Berks, Montgomery, Delaware, Camden and Philadelphia
counties are eligible. Submissions are due March 2. Click here for more information on the contest.

News Stream: Designing Water

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Photo: Joseph G. Brin

Highly recommended reading: "Designing Water," an article that appeared last week in Metropolis magazine. The piece by Joseph G. Brin ties together Philadelphia's legacy as one of the first cities in the nation to provide large-scale drinking water facilities (via the Fairmount Water Works, back when PWD was called the Watering Committee) with the current Green City, Clean Waters plan to manage stormwater through green infrastructure. Brin focuses on how Philadelphia is once again thinking of long-term, innovative solutions to urban water problems:

"In 1967, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman in the The Graduate) was told the key to his young future lay in one word,'Plastics.'

In 2012, Howard Neukrug, PE, Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), would probably tell you it’s 'Stormwater Management' or the equivalent, equally sexy 'Demand Reduction.' But you have to appreciate he’s taking the city in a specific direction that has as much to do with the values we live by as it does about the diameter of stormwater piping and green infrastructure strategies that are all part of his overall, guiding vision."

Want Vs. Need

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Image: Denver Water

Check out Denver Water's Use Only What You Need campaign for some clever photos, posters and videos about water conservation.

Free and Easy (and Mandatory): Upgrade Your Water Meter

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The Philadelphia Water Department is working with Itron, a company that specializes in automatic meter readers, to upgrade water meters citywide over the next two years. Representatives from Itron will be visiting each neighborhood in the city to perform the free upgrade. The process takes less than 30 minutes and is mandatory—failure to upgrade your meter will result in an interruption of water service. Help us complete this upgrade: Allow the Itron representative into your home (he or she will be driving a vehicle and wearing a uniform with Itron and PWD insignia, and will also have an Itron and PWD identification badge). If you are not home during their visit, you may schedule an appointment.

Click here for more information on the upgrade and scheduling information.

11 For 2011: The Media Sends the Message

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PWD's Watersheds blog closes out the year with a list of 11 green missions accomplished in 2011, from innovative stormwater management projects and stream restorations to groundbreaking policy agreements and energy-generating solar arrays.

When it comes to spreading the word about Green City, Clean Waters—Philadelphia's 25-year plan to protect and enhance our watersheds largely through green infrastructure—PWD had a lot of help in 2011. The innovative plan and the beginning of its implementation drew attention from many different corners of the media universe: print and online publications concerned with science, technology, finance, ecology, urban planning and straight-up news all weighed in. 

A complete 2011 press roundup would be lengthy (not to mention immodest), but here are a handful of articles highlighting Green City, Clean Waters activities:

Harvard Crimson Meets Philadelphia Green

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Earlier this month, Harvard's Graduate School of Design hosted "The Philadelphia Story: Planning, Politics and Reality," a panel discussion led by Loeb fellow and Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron. The Philadelphia Water Department's Glen Abrams, Manager of Policy and Strategic Initiatives, joined Mayor Michael Nutter and others to examine Philadelphia's planning achievements and challenges in recent years. Among the positive developments highlighted were, of course, the Green City, Clean Waters plan to manage stormwater runoff. Saffron wrote in a blog post:

"So many plans have been produced in the last four years that it’s sometimes hard to understand how they fit together. So it was a revelation when Glen Abrams produced a single slide that explained the relationships. It depicted the reports as planets revolving around – what else? – the city's ambitious Greenworks sustainability plan. Together with Parks and Rec, the department also developed another plan, Green2015, to create a green park in every neighborhood – 500 acres all told. Along with greening streets and other hard surfaces, it will help the city to avoid spending $10 billion on a network of pipes, which would be a lot money down the drain."

For another perspective on the panel discussion read Ashley Hahn's post on PlanPhilly's Eyes On The Street blog.

Bloomberg: Invest in Green Stormwater Infrastructure

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Stormwater bumpouts at Queen Lane in East Falls

According to a recent newsletter published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance—the clean-energy investment arm of the independent analysis/data firm—green stormwater infrastructure can grow more than just plants. With tighter stormwater regulations on the horizon and more U.S. cities committing to green infrastructure solutions, market growth is happening as well. The Nov. 23 newsletter ("US Stormwater Programme Poised For Green Growth") claims that investors in green infrastructure systems could see long-term growth; nationwide, we're already spending nearly $1 billion a year. It also highlights Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters plan:

"On completion, the program will achieve a reduction in annual pollution discharge equivalent to that which would be attained through the capture and treatment of 85% of Philadelphia's combined sewage output. It therefore offers a significant cost saving versus an entirely grey approach which, according to the PWD, would cost up to $10 billion and would require the construction of a vast underground storage system, as well as expansion of the combined sewer network.

Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters program is expected to be replicated many times over the next few decades."

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