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TTF Thursday: Watershed Milestones Award Ceremony

On Thursday May 31 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership will be hosting the first Watershed Milestones Award Ceremony and Reception at the Fairmount Waterworks Interpretive Center. The event will honor individuals and organizations who have mad a difference in the TTF watershed, PWD commissioner Howard Neukrug will be a featured speaker, and there will be a silent auction.

Reserve your spot at the awards ceremony.

Tomorrow Night: The Watershed So Nice They Named It Thrice

Join us tomorrow night, Thursday April 19 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, to learn about the activities and achievements of the Tookany-Tacony/Frankford Watershed Partnership. We'll talk about the TTF Watershed Partnership's history, ways you can get involved, and recent projects such as the storm drain marking initiative pictured above.

Why does one creek have three names, anyway? It begins in Montgomery County as Tookany Creek, is spelled differently (Tacony) in Philadelphia, then becomes Frankford Creek near the intersection of I and Ramona in Juniata Park. Read more about the watershed's history here.

East Germantown Soaked It Up

Last week, Soak It Up, Philly! hit East Germantown to celebrate the six stormwater tree trenches on Belfield Avenue. The Philadelphia Water Department's third Soak It Up event drew a crowd—the community came out to see how PWD's green infrastructure absorbs rain water and works toward preventing sewer overflows in our rivers and streams. Neighbors enjoyed refreshments, art activities, flower plantings and more yarn art around the trees.

The next Soak It Up event is this Thursday, March 29 at 7th and Cumberland streets in North Philadelphia.

Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club President Rev. Chester Williams and PWD Comissioner Howard Neukrug dedicate the stormwater tree trenches.

Plantings around the street trees help beautify the neighborhood.

11 For 2011: Hunting Park Tree Trenches and Planters

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.

The slideshow above shows the progress of the stormwater tree trenches and stormwater planters near the intersection of Hunting Park and Castor Avenues. The two tree trenches and seven planters are designed to capture up to 40,000 cubic feet of runoff from surrounding streets, or an estimated total drainage area of 40,000 square feet.

Stormwater planters and tree trenches are soil-water-plant systems that intercept runoff, infiltrate a portion of it into the ground, evaporate a portion into the air, and in some cases release a portion of it slowly back into the sewer system. Reducing or slowing the amount of stormwater that enters our sewers helps protect the rivers and streams that supply Philadelphia's drinking water by preventing combined sewer overflows.

Saturday: Rain Barrels, Spokesdog and Hot Cocoa at Tacony Creek Environmental Fair

Join the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership on Saturday, Dec. 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for a free environmental fair along the Tacony Creek (meet at 4941 Roosevelt Blvd at the Thomas Scattergood Foundation on the Friends Hospital property). Sign up for a free rain barrel or downspout planter, enjoy free hot cocoa, make an eco-card, join a guided bird walk and meet PWD spokesdog Teddie and get a free gift! Speaking of spokesdogs, the 2012 Philly Water's Best Friend competition is coming to Northern Liberties and Queen Village—registration is now open.

Here's PWD's East Falls spokesdog Teddie and his owner in action, spreading the word about picking up pet waste:

Making News: Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed

Julie Slavet, executive director of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, recently appeared on Comcast's Newsmakers program to talk about the organization's efforts to restore and preserve the health of Tookany/Tacony/Frankford creek. (If you're confused as to why this creek has three names, click here.) Slavet discusses the stream and trail restorations happening in Tacony Creek Park, the site of a Love Your Watershed day on Dec. 17. Join your neighbors at the park from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., sign up for a free rain barrel and meet Molson the PWD spokesdog!

A Rain Garden Grows in Germantown

Photo: Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership

On Saturday, Germantown's Vernon Park debuted its new rain garden as part of the citywide Love Your Park clean-up campaign. Mayor Michael Nutter, PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug and other city officials joined volunteers to rake leaves, clean the park and cut the ribbon on Philadelphia's newest stormwater-management project. Click here for more info and photos from the event.

Saturday: When You Love Your Park, You Love Your Watershed

Photo: Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership

On Saturday, November 5, volunteers all around Philadelphia will gather to clean and green their local parks (find your nearest park here). When you participate in this weekend's Love Your Park day, you're also helping out your watershed by clearing debris and litter that might otherwise end up in a storm drain. And at Vernon Park in Germantown, where the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership recently led an effort to install a rain garden (volunteers preparing the ground are pictured above), the clean-up effort will be joined by Mayor Michael Nutter, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis and PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug. Vernon Park is at 5818 Germantown Ave., and the event will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Learn more about rain gardens here or download the Vernon Park rain garden brochure.

A Gain of Salt: How Excess Road Salt Affects Tacony Creek

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Image: U.S. Geological Survey

We'd like to stress that the graph above does not show the marked increase in consumption of Halloween candy in area households. It does, however, tell a tale of two storms and how they influenced specific conductance (rough translation: amount of dissolved salt) in Tacony Creek last month. Normally, Philadelphia's streams contain more dissolved salts than rainwater, so the graph above should dip during rainstorms as the rainwater dilutes the stream. The two storms—one on Oct. 20 and one on Oct. 30—were comparable in size, and the graph plummets accordingly on Oct. 20.

So what caused the salt levels to spike on Oct. 30? The previous day's unusually early-season snow and ice storm is the indirect culprit. De-icing salt applied to roads likely washed into Tacony Creek, causing levels of dissolved salt to rise significantly. Too much salt (sodium chloride) in creeks and streams can negatively impact fish and other aquatic life.

As winter approaches, remember that all de-icing materials can cause harm to the environment, and it's best to use them as little as necessary. For tips on applying de-icers and to learn about salt alternatives, see our Winter Ice Removal guide.

WHYY: History Explains East Germantown Flood

Wingohocking sewer under construction, 1914. (Photo: City Archives of Philadelphia)

An article earlier this month by NewsWorks' Nicole Juday examines the historical reasons for the flash flooding responsible for the drowning death of a young woman in East Germantown on September 8. The incident (news report here) occurred on high ground, far from any open streams; however, the location (Haines and Musgrave streets) is atop the buried Wingohocking Creek, one of many Philadelphia streams that were converted to sewers:

"Diverting streams into pipes was viewed as a way to protect clean water from contamination before it reached the Schuylkill, the source of Philadelphia's drinking water. At the time, it was the largest city infrastructure project ever undertaken. To make the project more efficient, the pipes carrying streams were engineered to carry wastewater from indoor plumbing as well, a design known as a combined system. Stormwater would enter the pipes through intake grates, and wastewater from houses and businesses; all to be carried downstream to a wastewater treatment plant.

The sewer system designed a hundred years ago to safeguard the health of Philadelphians is still in use today, and by all accounts will be for many years to come. But encapsulating most of our waterways has come at a price, particularly in the case of the historic watershed of the Wingohocking Creek."

In the September 8 incident, excessive rainfall (four inches in two hours) caused groundwater to push to the surface and cause flooding in streets and basements.

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