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Northeast Residents Learn About New Green Sites

How a tree trench works. Click for more.
This diagram shows how a tree trench like the one planned for Moss Park collects and filters water before slowly releasing it into the ground. Click for more info.

Philadelphia Water held two community meetings in the Northeast in late August to talk about upcoming Green City, Clean Waters projects. Both projects will bring green infrastructure tools that manage stormwater to neighborhood recreation areas—the Max Myers Playground at Busleton and Magee avenues and Moss Park at Torresdale and Cheltenham avenues.

The Max Myers meeting was held Aug. 21 and covered plans for improvements to the park area and nearby streets that include two rain gardens and a stormwater storage basin beneath an existing baseball diamond. In addition to managing stormwater from the surrounding streets to address sewer overflows, the rain gardens will beautify the park with landscaping that includes plants and shrubs. Park users will also get a brand-new baseball diamond after the storage basin is complete.

Philadelphia Parks and Recreation is a partner for both projects, and Take Back Your Neighborhood, Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez and Councilman Bobby Henon helped spread word about the Max Myers meeting.

The Moss Park meeting was held Aug. 24, and current plans include managing stormwater from nearby streets through the use of a tree trench featuring 16 new trees. As currently planned, the project will include replacing a weathered sidewalk along Ditman Street. The Moss improvements also include two new rain gardens, a new path, and an underground stormwater storage basin.
The Aug. 24 meeting was held with the help of Councilman Henon, Parks and Recreation, and the Wissinoming Civic Association.

Because the projects are still in the early planning phase, these meetings focused on getting feedback from residents and potential construction start dates aren’t yet available. Stay tuned at for more updates and look for invites for the next round of meetings about this project.

Throwback Thursday: Our Infrastructure Foundations

In this week's throwback post, we see some large mains under construction
August 4th, 1904— almost exactly 111 years ago.
As the three large, cast iron mains are laid in a Northeast neighborhood, some residents have gathered to watch the construction activity.

We couldn't help but take a closer look at the awesome facial hair on the guy on the right side of the photo (see the close-up of him below). Maybe this is really Fishtown, circa 2015?

Throwback Thursday: The Amazing 'Torresdale Conduit'

Inside the making of the Torresdale Conduit: A worker pumps water from the huge tunnel in 1903. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

In this week's throwback post, we look at a photo from the Philadelphia Water archives taken on October 24, 1903.

While a bit eerie—14 people died during the multiyear construction of the project pictured—this photo does give you a real sense of appreciation for the scale of water infrastructure beneath our feet and the herculean effort and sacrifice made by the generations before us to make sure their kids (and all of us) could have a future with clean, safe drinking water.

In this image, streams of groundwater entered the Torresdale Conduit as it was blasted out of bedrock, hampering construction. This worker used a hand-operated pump to remove the excess water. The conduit took two and a half years to complete, and had a capacity of 300 million gallons per day.

Still in use today, the Torresdale Conduit was built along the Delaware River waterfront in the first decade of the 20th century. It carries filtered water from the Torresdale Filters (now the Baxter Water Treatment Plant) to the Lardner’s Point Pumping Station, which pumps the water into the city’s system of distribution pipes. When they were completed, both the filter plant (covering about 75 acres) and the pumping station (with a capacity of 200 million gallons a day) were each the largest of their kind in the world.

In his 1987 book Typhoid and the Politics of Public Health in Nineteenth-century Philadelphia, Michael P. McCarthy wrote that the project was popular because the engineers saved about $2 million by using brick instead of cast iron. But there was also, apparently, some civic pride:  "... the conduit was quite popular because, in addition to the savings involved, it was a sophisticated project that gave the city a good deal of favorable publicity."

The conduit is about 2.5 miles long and about 10.5 feet in diameter. Constructed of bricks and mortar, it lies about 100 feet underground and is still an integral part of our water distribution system.

For more information on the history of the city’s water filtration system, check out the work of historian Adam Levine by clicking here.

Restoration Team to Be Toasted at 'Watershed Milestones'

A car rests in a stream in the city's Northeast. Credit: Waterways Restoration Team,
A car rests in a stream in the city's Northeast. Credit: Waterways Restoration Team,

Ever see some serious trash—we’re talking tires, shopping carts, and yes, even cars—in a stream and wonder who on earth will ever have the muscle to get it out? That would be Philadelphia Water’s Waterways Restoration Team (WRT), a hard working branch of the department that takes on the aforementioned litter and does things like restore creek banks that have been degraded by erosion. 

It’s important work that doesn’t just restore the beauty of our waterways, but helps to preserve the quality of the water we drink. The Tookany/Tacony Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTFWP), an important group in our watershed stewardship efforts, is honoring the Waterways Restoration Team with their “Municipal Leader Award” at an event marking their 10th anniversary tonight.

Dubbed “Watershed Milestones,” the celebration will feature Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug and pays tribute to the various groups and people who have worked to improve and preserve the quality of the watershed’s 30 square miles beginning in Montgomery County and ending at the base of the Betsy Ross Bridge on the Delaware. In addition to regular volunteer cleanups that complement WRT work, TTFWP has helped Philadelphia Water to conduct litter studies, done important work to document and seed freshwater mussels in the creek, and organizes Tacony Creek Park nature walks, to name just a few of their activities.

Those who wish to support the group can get tickets for the event, to be held at the Globe Dye Works building in the Frankford neighborhood starting at 5:30 p.m., by clicking here. Proceeds will go toward outreach, education, and restoration efforts. Those who get tickets online can save $10 off the door charge.

Congratulations to TTF Watershed for 10 years of amazing work! 

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