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This Weekend, A Spokesdog Shall Be Crowned

At long last, the next Philadelphia Water Spokesdog will be crowned this weekend in Fishtown as up to 20 top dogs—selected by an impressive 4,100 online votes this fall—compete in a pageant to prove which pooch has the best chops for fighting pet waste pollution on our streets.

Living Lands and Waters Leaves Philly with 32,832 Pounds Less Trash

Two Dumpsters full of trash from the Delaware River.
This trash was collected from the Delaware River by crews working with Living Lands and Waters in late August, early September. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Living Lands and Waters, an Illinois-based non-profit dedicated to cleaning up America’s rivers, spent the end of the summer on the Delaware River. And they found lots and lots of trash.

In a cleanup effort that lasted from August 20 to September 2, LL&W travelled up and down the river in a pair of boats designed for collecting trash.

Here are the stats from their stay:

• LLW hosted a total of 20 cleanups

• 237 people from the region came out to gather trash

• 32,831.5 pounds (about 16.5 tons) of garbage were removed from the Delaware River

• 330 of the bags collected contained non-recyclable trash

• 353 (over 50 percent) of the bags collected contained recyclables

• 308 tires were removed and later recycled by Bridgestone/Firestone

Philadelphia Water took part in the effort, and one of the most striking aspects of the cleanup was just how many plastic bottles litter the banks of our biggest river. Nearly every foot of the shoreline near the Betsy Ross Bridge contained numerous plastic bottles, and only the infuriatingly hard to collect debris left behind by Styrofoam coffee cups came close to outnumbering this form of trash.

If anyone participating in that effort wasn’t an advocate for reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, they surely are now. Click here to see some photos (including some of a pickup truck literally overflowing with collected plastic bottles) from one of the cleanups with Philadelphia Water.

Student Street Art Spreads Important Message

Juliette Kang, a 4th grader from Germantown Friends who took one of the top prizes, installs her art at Penn's Landing with family and friends.
Juliette Kang, a 4th grader from Germantown Friends who took one of the top awards, installs her art at Penn's Landing with family and friends. Credit: PDE.

Our Green City, Clean Waters 2015 Art Contest is a gift that keeps on giving.

Throughout August, we’ve been working with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary to turn hand-drawn art submitted by local students into street art that's being placed near stormdrains in select locations across the city.
These fun, eye-catching installations, which originated from 1,300 student submissions, help spread an important message: only rain should go down the drain.

It might seem obvious to many of us, but for a long time, people thought of stormdrains as just another place to get rid of trash and, worse, unwanted household chemicals like motor oil from at-home oil changes, old paint and cleaning fluids. Because these sewers empty directly into the rivers and streams that provide wildlife habitats and our drinking water, that kind of dumping can be very harmful.
With their art, these students are helping to turn the tide on that kind of behavior and reminding all of us to make sure our street inlets are treated like what they are—direct links between our neighborhoods and waterways—and not like Dumpsters.

You can already find student art near Penn's Landing (in the Walnut Street Plaza, near the parking lot); at our Saylor Grove wetland installation in Fairmount Park; at Gifford Park (by the main park entrance) in the Far Northeast; at Picariello Playground (inside the playground) in the Morrell Park neighborhood; and at Lanier Park at 30th Street and Tasker in South Philly.
Over the next week, the creative output of these students will be affixed to the streets, sidewalks or other hard surface near drains in the following places:

• Cobbs Creek Environmental Education Center, Catharine Street and Cobbs Creek Parkway
• 30th Street Station, Market Street and 30th Street
• Ralph Brooks Park, Fernon Street and 20th Street
• McPherson Square, E Street and E. Indiana Avenue
• Philadelphia Protestant House, Tabor Avenue and Martins Mill Road
• Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, West Chelton Avenue and North 18th Street
• Max Myers Playground, Hellerman Street
• Lanier Park, Tasker and 30th Street
• Guerin Recreation Center, 16th and Jackson
• Moss Park, 5700 Torresdale Avenue

 If you see some, take a photo and share it on social media with the hashtags #PhillyWaterArt and #CleanWaterArt and help spread this important message! As we do the installations, we’ll take photos and share them, so be sure to follow along on Twitter at @PhillyH2O and @DelawareEstuary

Time to Vote for Your Favorite Spokesdog

Scoop the Poop! Watch our video above about the importance of cleaning up after your dog!

We received over two dozen nominations for the next Philadelphia Water Spokesdog. And while we personally think all these cute pooches would be great ambassadors in the campaign to spread awareness about the impact of pet waste on our waterways, it's up to you to vote in the champ.

With the average dog producing about 200 pounds of waste every year, the negative impacts that come from improper disposal can add up quickly—especially in dog-crazy neighborhoods.

Getting more people to obey laws requiring dog owners to pick up after their pet and place the poo-llution in a trash can means less untreated waste getting washed into our sewers and rivers during rains.

You can read all about the Spokesdog contest by clicking here, and be sure to vote for your favorite pup by clicking here.

Voting ends August 31, and the winner will show up in our pet waste educational materials and at community events to spread the word.

Philadelphia Water Makes ASCE's 'Game Changer' List

Game Changer: Our Biogas Cogeneration facility at the Northeast WPCP is changing the way people think about wastewater management. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Game Changer: Our Biogas Cogeneration facility at the Northeast WPCP in Port Richmond is changing the way people think about wastewater management. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

The American Society of Civil Engineers rolled out a cool new campaign last week to highlight infrastructure projects around the country that they see as “game changers”—investments that have the potential to change the way we live for the better.

Making their list of innovative infrastructure was our very own Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant, a high-tech facility that treats an average of 188.12 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Located in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood, the 150-acre Northeast WPCP facility is our biggest and oldest wastewater treatment plant. So why is ASME calling it a “game changer”?

The Northeast WPCP is home to our Biogas Cogeneration facility, a modern marvel that essentially turns a harmful human waste byproduct—methane gas— into enough energy to power about 85 percent of the plant’s operations.

In cruder terms: it’s power from poop.

This infrastructure investment has a number of benefits, not least of which is a reduced operating cost, which helps to keep rates low for our customers. Considering energy consumption is by far one of the biggest expenses in water treatment, creating that much energy for our biggest wastewater plant is a big deal.

From a more altruistic perspective, the Biogas Cogeneration facility also acts as a double-edge sword in fighting climate change; we’re keeping a powerful greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere while simultaneously reducing the need for fossil fuel-sourced electricity.
That makes the facility a win-win-win scenario.

The ASCE also lauds our biosolids recycling program and efforts to replace aging pipes and water mains:

"… they have increased investment in water pipes by 25 percent in their latest capital improvement program. However the Department’s Strategic Energy Plan also looks to better manage future expenses – it includes a facility that will extract energy from material typically thought of as waste. … Their ultimate goal for all of the wastewater treatment plants in the City is to be net zero energy consumption."

You can check out the full story and other innovation success stories at

Learn more about our sustainability initiatives here and get an overview of how the Biogas facility works here.

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