Green City, Clean Waters Wins Planning Excellence Award

APA Award

Congratulations to our Green City, Clean Waters program for being awarded the American Planning Association (APA) Pennsylvania Chapter's Planning Excellence Award in Implementation! The annual award is given to those whose work exemplifies the best and brightest in Pennsylvania Planning. Jessica Noon and Liz Svekla, planners in the Office of Watersheds at PWD, accepted the award at the PA APA annual conference on October 14, 2014. Pennsylvania Chapter President Brian O’Leary presented the award during a luncheon ceremony in front of 500+ planning peers.

During the conference PWD staff led a tour of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects at the Big Green Block. Ten conference participants from communities across Pennsylvania attended the tour to see rain gardens, green roofs, tree trenches and more. Participants learned about GSI design and maintenance; successful partnerships with agencies and stakeholders; stormwater regulations; and the importance of community involvement.

Jessica Noon, Amy Liu, Nicole Hostettler and Liz Svekla from PWD attended the conference sessions and returned to the Water Department with new ideas and inspiration from other parts of Pennsylvania.

Special thanks to APA PA conference committee chairs Susan Shermer, Denny Puko and Keith McNally for coordinating our tour and award!

Greening Lea Playground

Lea Elementary School Playground before the Greening Lea Project
Lea Elementary School Playground before the Greening Lea Project


Lea Elementary School Playground after phase l of the Greening Lea Project

Congratulations to Lea Elementary School which recently completed phase I of its playground transformation project! Previously an asphalt lot, the Greening Lea project will revitalize the school’s 41,000 square foot playground and convert it into a vibrant, fun educational space for the school and the larger community. The Philadelphia Water Department awarded the West Philadelphia Coalition for Neighborhood Schools (WPCNS), which is spearheading the project, a $242,000 Stormwater Management Incentives Program grant for the project, which will include a porous play surface, a rain garden and other green tools to manage stormwater runoff. 

WPCNS has been working since 2012 to revamp the play areas and brought in parents, students, volunteer design professionals, the Community Design Collaborative, the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Water Department, who worked together to create a master plan for the schoolyard. On September 19 there was a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion of the existing play set to include a play set from nearby Wilson Elementary School, which was closed in 2013. Beneath both play sets a colorful, squishy porous surface was installed that provides a soft landing for kids while also capturing stormwater that falls on the site.  

The new play area and porous surface are just the beginning of the transformation for Lea. Later phases of the project include installing rain gardens, new trees, a new basketball court, a stage area and more. You can read more about this project in the Philadelphia Tribune and on the WPCNS website.

Villanova Planting at Harper’s Hollow

Volunteers at Harper's Hollow Planting

The Philadelphia Water Department would like to give a big shout out to all of the volunteers who helped plant a rain garden at Harper’s Hollow Park on Saturday, September 27. This successful planting was one of the Villanova University Day of Service projects. The annual Day of Service is a volunteer day that brings together nearly 5,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni who give their time and service throughout Greater Philadelphia. In addition to two Villanova University professors and 16 Villanova students, the planting was attended by members of Friends of Harper’s Hollow, people from the neighborhood and PWD employees that came together, got their hands dirty and installed nearly 100 plants.

The plants for the rain garden were graciously donated by Dr. Robert Traver, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership program, and his lab. Thirty-eight shrub species were planted, including red chokeberries, sweet pepperbushes, and shamrock inkberries, and 60 herbaceous plants were installed, including moonbeam tickseeds, magnus purple coneflowers, and white swan purple coneflowers.

It was a beautiful day and a hugely successful planting. Thanks once again to everyone who came together to get the all the plants in the ground.  We look forward to seeing the plants take root and grow into a mature rain garden. 

Meet the 2014 Philadelphia Spokesdog Winners!

Spokesdog Winners!

Gracie (left) and Daisy Ann (right) are this year's Spokesdog competition winners!
Photos by Shaun Bailey of Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. 

Congratulations to the winners of our 2014 Philly Water’s Best Friend Spokesdog Competition: Daisy Ann, a hound dog from Lower Moyamensing and Gracie, a corgi from Juniata! These two eco-friendly pups and their guardians will teach neighbors about the importance of picking up after their pets to keep our waterways clean.

The Partnership for Delaware Estuary and the Philadelphia Water Department team up every year to host the Spokesdog Competition. Now in its fourth year, the competition crowns two dogs from Philadelphia who will serve (with their guardians) as clean water ambassadors to the city for one year. They spread the word about picking up pet waste at neighborhood events, hand out free pet waste bags and get featured on promotional and educational materials. In return, the winners receive prizes for their pooches including toys, treats, and grooming services. 

This year’s competitions were held on Saturday, September 20th at the Lower Moyamensing Flea Market and on Saturday, September 27 at the Juniata Fest. Hound dog Daisy Ann and guardian Eileen Burns were the winners in Lower Moyamensing and corgi Gracie and guardian Michelle Shaw were the winners in Juniata. They each received $250 worth of prizes for their pups! 

Pet waste is a “poo-lutant” that is harmful to the environment, especially to rivers. Pet waste that stays on the ground can get washed into our sewer system and overflow into our rivers. Once in the river, it can fuel excessive growth of aquatic algae which robs the water of oxygen, potentially killing fish and other species. It can also pollute the land and water with disease-causing bacteria. Luckily, there’s a simple solution—pet owners should flush waste down the toilet (not in a bag) where it can be treated at a sewage treatment plant, or discarded in the trash using a biodegradable bag. 

Check out photos of the event from the Parternship for Delaware Estuary at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/delawareestuary.

Venice Island is Opening!

Aerial rendering of Venice Island

After years of hard work and collaboration between the
Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Parks and Recreations, and the
Manayunk community, Venice Island will open to the public! Join us next week
on October 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM for the official opening and ribbon cutting
event to celebrate the completion of the Venice Island Performing Arts &
Recreation Center, the Philadelphia Water Department storage basin unit, and
green storm water infrastructure projects at the site. Guests will include Mayor
Michael Nutter, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. Deputy Mayor for Community and
Environmental Resources Michael DiBerardinis, Water Commissioner Howard
Neukrug, and Chief Cultural Officer Helen Haynes. There will be musical
entertainment, tours of the green infrastructure projects, performances at the
Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center, and outdoor,
site-specific art installations on display.

The Venice Island project is located between the Manayunk Canal
and the Schuylkill River, between the Lock and Cotton Street bridges in
Manayunk. The Philadelphia Water Department designed the project to include
tree trenches, a pump house with a green roof, and a subsurface basin that will
temporarily store diverted flow from the sanitary interceptor sewer during
intense rain storms. The basin capable of storing nearly four million gallons
of water – roughly 180 Septa buses – that are later pumped out and directed to
a treatment plant. The project not only protects and improves the health of the
Schuylkill River, but also includes a full-scale reconstruction of the
recreational facilities and community amenities, including a new
state-of-the-art recreation and performing arts facility, new athletic fields,
a children’s play area and spray park, and a new parking lot. Read more about this exciting project.

We hope to see you at the opening day!

Date: Tuesday, October 7th

Time: 11:00 AM

Location: 1 Cotton Street (in Manayunk), Philadelphia, PA 19127

For the Love of Water FLOW

This Sunday, September 21st, show your affection for water by joining the Fairmount Water Works for FLOW, a festival for the Love of Water. The daylong event will celebrate the art and science of water on the Schuylkill River from 1:00 PM to dusk. FLOW is free and open to all ages. There will be several performances and fun activities for everyone to enjoy and have a great time.

Events include: Drip Drums, Sonic States of the Schuylkill, a Splash Organ, the Fairmount Fishway, River Net, Flood Stories, and for the grand finale, a dramatic light show illuminating the Water Works exterior.To make the day even more spectacular, the Philadelphia History Truck will be attending to record your stories and memories about Philadelphia’s waterways.

Click here for more information and schedule

Congratulations to Osman Fofanah! A PowerCorpsPHL Success Story

The Philadelphia Water Department would like to give a big shout out to Osman Fofanah, a PowerCorpPHL alumnus who recently landed a job with AKRF (Allee King Rosen & Fleming), a prominent environmental, planning and engineering consulting firm.

Through PowerCorpPHL, Osman worked with PWD’s Office of Watersheds this past year with the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Maintenance team, assisting with tasks ranging from data entry to field work at project sites. Additionally, Osman was the Assistant Crew Leader for PowerCorpsPHL inaugural Green Stormwater Infrastructure Maintenance Crew from April 2014 through September 2014, making sure that PWD’s green infrastructure functioned properly and looked beautiful.

With AKRF, Osman will use the skills he learned at the Water Department for his new position as the Green Infrastructure Landscape Maintenance Technician. He will perform routine surface maintenance as well as planting and installing green stormwater infrastructure projects in Philadelphia and the surrounding region.

PowerCorpPHL, an AmeriCorps program that started in 2013, enrolls 100 individuals, ages 18 to 26 in a 9 month program with 6 months of full-time service as AmeriCorps members in city departments, and 3 months of intensive job placement support. The program is designed to address environmental stewardship initiatives as well as the City of Philadelphia’s youth workforce development and violence prevention priorities. Osman’s story is a testament to the success of the PowerCorpsPHL program and PWD is delighted to be involved as a partner with this program.

Osman, who was in the first PowerCorpPHL cohort, is a dedicated, self-motivated young man. Knowing what Osman brings to this position, it was not surprising to hear that he landed the job and there is no doubt he will find success in his new role. The Philadelphia Water Department wishes him all the best and sends him a hearty congratulations!

A Fishing Success on Schuylkill Banks


On Saturday, September 6th, the Philadelphia Water Department, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and PA Fish & Boat convened at Schuylkill Banks for the 10th Annual Philly Fun Fishing Fest. With sunny, perfect weather it was a great opportunity for family and friends to unwind by the water and try their hand at fishing. 

Collectively, the crowds of anglers caught (and released) 46 fish! Eight different species were represented, including Channel Catfish, Striped Bass, Bluegill, American Eel, American Shad, White Perch, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, and Red-Breast Sunfish. Prizes from Dick’s Sporting Goods and Plano Tackle were awarded for the first fish caught, the largest fish caught, the most successful angler, and more.

In addition to fishing, there were plenty of activities for the entire family to enjoy, including face painting and a Crazy Hat contest. It was indeed a great day for fishing on Schuylkill Banks. 

Check out photos of this fantastic day on our Flickr page and join us next year in September when the festival returns!