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Last Day to Register for the Fishing Fest

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Today is the last day to register for the 2011 Philly Fun Fishing Fest, a free event on the Schuylkill Banks this Saturday, September 10, from 7-11 a.m. No fishing license is required, and fishing gear will be available for loan on a first come, first serve basis. Click here for more information.

Wrecking The Rec Center

Video: NewsWorks

Even if you don't care about stormwater management (and it's our sworn duty to insist you really should), who doesn't like to watch stuff get wrecked? WHYY's NewsWorks posted a time-lapse video (above) of the demolition of the old Venice Island recreation center. It's all part of PWD's two-year, $40 million project to install a 4 million-gallon underground storage basin and revamp the area with a new performing arts space, children's play area (including a sprayground) and parking space. Read the accompanying NewsWorks article here.

Click here to learn more about the Venice Island project and check out our recent post on how the storage basin may have controlled flooding in Manayunk due to Hurricane Irene.

PWD's Hurricane Irene Report Card

 Fairmount DamA view of the swollen Schuylkill River at the Fairmount Water Works


As Hurricane Irene blew through Philadelphia last weekend, PWD's water and sewer infrastructure was put to the test. How did we do? Our infrastructure was designed to manage hurricanes and, with notable exceptions in very low-lying areas, the water was kept where it belonged. Even in Manayunk, where the floodwaters inundated Main Street, well-prepared citizens minimized the damage as much as possible.

Maybe it's not really a report card if you're grading yourself, but here’s how PWD stacked up by the numbers:

  • PWD wastewater treatment plants received almost 1 billion gallons of stormwater, more than twice their normal volume, and maintained performance.
  • PWD cleared 400 inlets in proactive preparation for Irene, and that number—along with the help of citizens—is, according to Mayor Nutter, "a great part of why we didn't have as much flooding as we could have possibly had."  
  • More than 55 PWD employees worked over the weekend to answer calls and pump out flooded basements.  
  • The Schuylkill and Delaware rivers crested at 13.5 ft. and 9.77 ft., respectively, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia held up well overall but with saturated ground, trees did fall, electricity went out, and basements did flood. If you’re cleaning up, you’re not alone. After the jump, some tips to help with flooded basements.


Scenes From A Storm: Hurricane Irene, Part 1

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Photo: Jay Cruz

This week we're bringing you a series of posts dedicated to some of the stunning photos and videos taken by PWD personnel and our watershed friends in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene last weekend. Today's theme: the Schuylkill River. Above, the Schuylkill floods near the twin bridges (Roosevelt Expressway).

More photos after the jump.

What Would Venice Island Do?

Rendering of Venice Island project in Manayunk

WHYY's NewsWorks asked the question: How would the new Venice Island water basin have fared in Hurricane Irene?

If you were tuned in to local TV news over the weekend, you probably saw the situation in Manayunk: flooded roads near Main Street and Shurs Lane. Could the underground storage basin on nearby Venice Island—construction is just underway—have helped alleviate the flooding?

"At 400 feet long, 75 feet wide and 25 feet deep, the new basin will catch and temporarily store diverted storm flow from the sanitary sewer running along the Manayunk Canal. But would the new tank have prevented or lessened the hurricane-level flooding that doused part of Main Street over the weekend?

The short answer, officials say: Probably.

'This is a big tank but this was also a pretty good storm -- about 5 ½ inches over a 24-hour period,' [PWD spokeswoman Joanne] Dahme said in an email Monday. 'Without the modeling to confirm, we believe it would have worked well in this storm as rainfall was fairly steady, dispersed over a long period of time.'"

Click here for more information on the Venice Island project and to sign up for email updates.

This Place Is BMPing: PA DEP Southeast Regional Office

Each week, we profile a BMP—short for Best Management Practices—to demonstrate how local businesses, organizations and neighbors are helping to keep our streams and rivers clean by managing stormwater on their property.

Photo: PA DEP

It's not unexpected that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection would have a BMP or two at its regional headquarters—it's kind of like seeing a garage next to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s house, or pink flamingos on John Waters' lawn. That's just what they do. But the stormwater management at PA DEP's office in Norristown (upstream from Philadelphia along the Schuylkill River) is a little bit unusual. Sure, part of the building features a fairly typical green roof (688 square feet, and accessible to employees on the second floor), but it also sports a 5,000-gallon cistern that resembles a tiki hut. The indoor cistern stores runoff from the impervious portion of the roof; the water is filtered and used to flush toilets and water indoor plants. When the cistern approaches its storage capacity during heavy rainfall, water is diverted from the tank.

Learn more about this stormwater BMP project, find it on a map and view
photos at  the Temple-Villanova Sustainable Stormwater Initiative project page.

2011: An Open Space Odyssey

Image: University City District

It's time to play Name That Public Space: The stretch of Market Street between 30th Street Station and the former Post Office building is about to be transformed from a parking lane into a 40-foot-wide sidewalk by Labor Day. Future phases of the project include tree planting, food kiosks, and tables and chairs with umbrellas (see rendering above). While this all sounds great, the University City District is trying to figure out what to call the new site. Go here to learn more about the project and submit your suggestion to UCD by September 30; the winner gets bragging rights and a $500 Amtrak gift certificate.

And while we're on the topic of open public spaces, PlanPhilly has an article about the pedestrian plazas we mentioned last week in the MOTU post:

"Essentially, Stober said, the city is looking for community groups to come up with a plan to put down some sort of barrier—like boulders—between pedestrians and traffic, as well as things like planters to enliven the space. Applicants will also have to provide for maintenance of their plazas, as well as general liability insurance—so they'll need to be incorporated to bid for a slot.

In return, the city will paint the plazas green to distinguish them for the surrounding street and will also tap into $400,000 in Streets and Commerce department operating funds that have been made budgeted for the project. Money can be used to buy maintenance equipment or furniture and other amenities."


2011 Philly Fun Fishing Fest: The Video

Click here for more info on the fishing fest. Be sure to register before September 6.

The Big News: Venice Island

Rendering of completed Venice Island project

Beginning next week, Manayunk's Venice Island—a strip of land situated between the Manayunk Canal and the Schuylkill River—will undergo a $46 million makeover that includes the construction of an underground storage basin, a new performing arts center, a children's play area and a new parking lot. This project is so big we've created our own blog category for it, as well as a web page with more details and updates as construction progresses. The underground basin will have the capacity to store four million gallons of water in an effort to protect and improve the health of the Schuylkill River. And, as reported in today's NewsWorks article, Venice Island's other new amenities will benefit the site as well:

"For decades, the Venice Island rec center was the site of community programs, summer swimming and nearly year-round athletics. A city photo from 1960 shows a tidy waterfront playground tucked between then-working railroad tracks and the Schuylkill, a lifetime away from the forbidding, overgrown place Venice Island became in recent years.

In its new incarnation, the hockey rink and 3,200 square-foot playground area at Venice Island will be replaced one-for-one. The pool is being scrapped in favor of a spray ground area, and the basketball courts will be enlarged slightly to make them NCAA-regulation sized.

The performing arts center will also serve as a home base for the Parks and Recreation Department's Young Performers Theater Camp, which currently operates out of rented space at the Annenberg Center, [PWD's Joanne] Dahme said.

'This is a tight little island, so we're trying to squeeze as much as we can on here,' she said."

Another rendering of the site after the jump.

The Whimsy Has Landed


On Saturday, author, artist and re-explorer Allen Crawford completed his 40-mile, 3-day kayak journey from the wilds of New Jersey and landed in Bartram's Garden, planting his flag and claiming Philadelphia in the name of ... Lord Whimsy. Visit for plenty of pictures and audio recordings from the trip. See Crawford among the spatterdock and river clams, hear him at the Naval Yard, gawking at the mothballed ships (or, in Whimsy's words, "recumbent goddesses of the sea").

After the jump, a great shot of the old Philadelphia Electric Company Richmond Generating Station, as seen from the Delaware.

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