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Tonight: Clean Water Is Good Business

The green roof on PECO's building in Center City (pictured above) is certainly one way that businesses practice good stormwater management. But you don't have to be PECO to help keep Philly's water clean. Even the smallest businesses can find ways to manage stormwater and save money while showing their customers their commitment to sustainability. Join the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership tonight, October 20, from 7-8 p.m. for a free workshop. Good Business Practices for Clean Water will show you how to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution with simple housekeeping tips (protecting storm drains, vehicle washing, winter de-icing) and green practices (rain barrels, container gardens, tree planting).

The workshop will be held at the Rowland Community Center, 400 Mytrle Ave., in Cheltenham. Contact Dottie Baumgarten ( for more information. Also, see our Businesses section for tips and guidelines for managing stormwater on your business property.

Cancelled Saturday: Tacony Creek Clean-Up

This month's Tacony Creek Clean-Up is cancelled due to weather. 
This is a monthly event, so show your watershed some love—join the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership and the Scattergood Foundation next October for a clean-up of Tacony Creek.

Porous Repouring At Waterview Rec Center

A portion of the porous concrete sidewalk in front of East Germantown's Waterview Recreation Center was replaced yesterday; the surface of the sidewalk was spalling, or breaking apart. The porous pavement at Waterview Rec Center is designed to absorb stormwater from the walkways and surrounding land and infiltrate it through a gravel bed (shown in the photo above) beneath the sidewalk surface.

Why was the sidewalk breaking apart in the first place? PWD's materials testing lab is currently analyzing specimens of the old concrete to determine the cause. One theory is that an excess amount of deicing salt was applied to an area of the sidewalk during the winter, damaging that portion of the concrete. (Deicing salts can have damaging effects on conventional concrete and asphalt as well—not just porous paving.)

Click here to learn more about porous paving. After the jump, a photo of the porous concrete surface being installed over the gravel infiltration bed.


Germantown's First Green Street

Photo: PWD

What's that? What are they building on Belfield Avenue near Chew Street? Find out tomorrow night, Wednesday, September 14 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., as PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug and Public Affairs Manager Joanne Dahme visit the Clearview Community Park to discuss two new stormwater management projects in Germantown. Refreshments will be served, followed by a tour of a former vacant lot turned into a native garden and a look at Germantown's first Green City, Clean Waters green street. Click here for more info.

OK, we will not leave you in suspense. Pictured above are storage crates for a stormwater tree trench. For previous projects, tree trenches were underlaid with a stone bed; PWD is using these modular storage crates for the first time on this site due to the crates' superior storage capacity and the limited available space.

Tacony Creek Stream Clean-Up

Photo: Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership

Come out to Tacony Creek Park on Friday, July 29 and be part of a clean-up crew that includes the Philadelphia Water Department, Parks & Recreation and the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership. From 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. we'll be removing trash and debris from a section of the creek to improve the waterway's health and preserve access to the Tacony. Last month's clean-up at the Juniata Golf Course (pictured above) was a huge success. Meet at the corner of E. Ashdale St. and Bingham St. to participate; email for more information.

Update: Waders, gloves and refreshments will be provided.

This Place Is BMPing: Waterview Recreation Center

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.

Multiple BMPs at Waterview Recreation Center in East Germantown make this site a study in the different approaches to urban stormwater management. The porous concrete sidewalk in front of the recreation center allows for infiltration of stormwater. Where porous concrete did not replace traditional impervious sidewalk, stormwater tree trenches planted with turf grass and street trees also help capture stormwater. The porous concrete/tree trench system is also connected to modified inlets, which convey runoff from the street into the infiltration beds. And finally, two flow-through planters (pictured above) collect stormwater from the main building's roof; water flows from the partially disconnected roof leader to a concrete splash block, then into the waterproofed planter boxes landscaped with native plants. Any overflow is directed back into the city's sewer system. PWD partnered with Meliora Environmental Design and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for the Waterview Recreation Center project, a demonstration of how green infrastructure can work even with limited space and funding.

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

Required Reading: A Vision For The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed

posted in

The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership has just released the final version of its plan for the restoration, revitalization and future health of the watershed. (For more info on the watershed, maps and history, click here.) Titled An Evolution in Watershed Thinking, the document lays out a vision for a more sustainable urban watershed. In accordance with PWD's citywide Green City, Clean Waters plan, the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford initiative seeks to manage stormwater, restore creek health and provide recreational and aesthetic benefits to the community. Detailed maps and renderings highlight current and proposed projects in the Tookany, Tacony and Frankford portions of the watershed.

Download An Evolution in Watershed Thinking (7 MB PDF)

This Place Is BMPing: Cliveden Park

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.

Cliveden Park collects runoff from two city blocks in Mt. Airy, thanks to a rain garden featuring step pools (pictured above). During storms, rainwater is directed from an adjacent street and flows down a series of step pools into a rain garden. This system not only reduces the stormwater volume through evapotranspiration and infiltration, it also slows the velocity of the runoff that contributes to combined sewer overflows. Directing and detaining stormwater flow over natural surfaces can serve as a filter and help treat polluted runoff, improving its water quality.

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

Video presentation on the Cliveden Park project from 2008 after the jump.

Stream Restoration: Whitaker Ave

Before stream restoration
After stream restoration

Our green works aren't confined to stormwater infrastructure such as tree trenches and rain gardens. PWD's Office of Watersheds recognizes the need to preserve and restore our remaining streams to ensure a high-quality water supply and provide a healthy environment for recreation and wildlife. Last year, a 2,200-foot stretch of Tacony Creek just south of Roosevelt Boulevard was given a natural makeover. Like many urban streams, the Tacony is "flashy"—large volumes of stormwater runoff quickly enter the creek and erode its banks—and suffers from a degraded habitat for fish and other aquatic life. Trash and abandoned automobiles littered the creek banks, which were being overtaken by Japanese knotweed, an invasive bamboo-like plant species.

The Ecological Restoration Unit designed a plan to remove abandoned railroad abutments and stabilize the banks with specially placed stones and the planting of more than 3,000 new trees and shrubs. Rock vane structures were placed at bends in the stream and boulder clusters were placed in the stream center; both redirect flows and improve habitat for aquatic life. As a result, this portion of the Tacony is not only healthier and more attractive, but the creek's restoration also saves taxpayers money when compared to traditional structural solutions.

Learn more about degraded waterways and PWD's other restoration projects.

Green Streets: Hunting Park Tree Trenches and Planters

The stormwater tree trenches and stormwater planters near the intersection of Hunting Park and Castor Avenues are nearing completion. PWD broke ground last summer and expects to complete the project by planting 13 new trees in May. 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.

Locate this project on our Big Green Map.

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