These 25 Philly Homes Were Made More Beautiful by Rain Check: Pick Your Favorite!

Our Rain Check photo contest has been a big hit: over 100 residents submitted photos of their green stormwater tools!

To narrow it down, the Rain Check team picked the top 25—not an easy task, given the diverse mix of very cool projects represented in the entries. All who sent in a photo deserve a big thank you. You’re helping fellow Philadelphians realize just how beautiful managing stormwater at home can be.

Now: it’s time to vote for your favorite.

Voting ends Friday, July 28, 2017. After you pick from among the top 25, share this link with your family and friends so we can determine who has the best Rain Check project and show the rest of the city what these stormwater-fighting tools can do for a yard or patio.

We’ll announce the winners on Monday, July 31.

Here’s what the top three vote-getters will win:

1st place: PHS Family Membership which includes 4 tickets to The Philadelphia Flower Show (the 2018 theme: Wonders of Water) & many benefits. Current PHS members will receive a 1-year extension on their active membership

2nd place: $100 gift certificate to a local farm and garden center

3rd place: 2 tickets to the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show

Ready to check out the photos and pick your favorite?

Head over to the gallery and be sure to come back every day—you’ll only have one vote per day, so look through all the entries and make it count!

If you don’t have a Rain Check project of your own but are feeling inspired by the great photos we received, sign up for one of our free workshops today and get started now.

As you can see from this contest, the free rain barrels not only capture stormwater from your roof—they can make for impressive DIY showpieces in your yard/on your patio, and the discounted landscaping and permeable paver projects are serious upgrades.

We have lots of upcoming workshops, including two at the lush new PHS Pop Up beer garden in University City.

Stop by on July 24 or on Tuesday, August 15 and enjoy the greenery while grabbing dinner and getting started on your Rain Check project.

So Many Ways to Keep Cool in Philadelphia. Opening Hydrants? Not One of Them

In Philadelphia, we’re lucky to have more pools and spray grounds per resident than any other city in the U.S.

Because we have all those great, free places to cool off, there’s no reason to open fire hydrants when the weather gets hot or risk swimming in our unpredictable rivers, where drowning is always a risk.

Opening hydrants can cause a number of dangerous situations:

  • A fire hydrant opened at full pressure can cause serious bodily harm, or even death, should a child, or an adult get pushed into oncoming traffic while playing in front of the hydrant
  • Illegally opening a hydrant can break the valves and make the hydrant useless when it’s needed most—during a fire on your block
  • The huge amount of water coming out of hydrants can flood local basements and cause problems with gas and electric lines
  • Operating hydrants the wrong way can break the water mains that are under your street when not properly turned on or off

If you see a hydrant open on your block, report it right away by calling our emergency hotline at 215 685 6300.

You can find a local pool operated by Parks and Recreation, or check out one of our local spraygrounds. The City is also hosting Swim Philly events right now—free fun activities like Aqua Yoga and Aqua Zumba at local pools. Check out the Swim Philly calendar.

Not a bathing suit person? Head to a local library and cool off while checking out the wide range of free resources the Free Library of Philadelphia provides for residents.

And, as always, take advantage of the clean, top-quality water available from your tap—at less than a half a penny per gallon, it’s the best way to stay hydrated when the temps soar.

So remember: hydrants are for fire, not fun.

For more tips about staying safe in the heat, check out this great guide from the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management.

New Roxborough Mural Explores Local Watersheds, Lore and Mysterious History

Roxborough Paint Day  - 6/25/2017

 

The site of Roxborough’s Pocket Park project, nestled between two buildings along Ridge Avenue, now features the beginnings of a water- and history-themed mural—a bright new addition to a still-developing space that the community hopes will be a keystone attraction for residents and visitors.

Mural Arts worked with the Philadelphia Water Department and Roxborough Development Corp. (RDC) to commission Paul Santoleri, an internationally recognized artist and Roxborough native, to create the work.
Nearly 60 Roxborough neighbors and visitors, including U.S Congressman Dwight Evans, participated in a June 25 Roxborough Community Paint Day and worked side-by-side with Santoleri for a communal painting event that got the new work started.

Thursday: Point Breeze Residents to Build New Features for Lot Project

Following a successful June 10 community cleanup with Point Breeze neighbors that targeted a vacant lot at Point Breeze Avenue and Mifflin Street, we’re heading back to the space this Thursday for a special event with Philly’s Public Workshop:

Residents are invited to join this collaborative “community build” June 29 at 3 p.m. and construct decorative wooden benches and signs for the emerging neighborhood green space

Residents are invited to join this collaborative “community build” and construct decorative wooden benches and signs for the emerging neighborhood green space, which is set to become a rain garden through the Green City, Clean Waters program.

When complete, the plant-filled lot will protect Philadelphia’s rivers and creeks by soaking up stormwater and reducing sewer overflows. Read more about the project and cleanup effort here.

Over the last year, we have been working with Public Workshop, a community-building organization specializing in creative, hands-on events, to get Point Breeze residents excited about green projects planned for the neighborhood.

In addition to the cleanup activity, PWD and Public Workshop have worked with the nearby McDaniel Elementary School to get students thinking about how the Mifflin Street lot can benefit the neighborhood now and in the future as a green stormwater site.

This week’s building event will start at 3 p.m., and residents of all ages are invited to come pitch in.

Share the event on Facebook and invite your friends!

Latest Philadelphia Water Quality Data Out Now

See our latest water quality data at phila.gov/water or request a free copy at 215 685 6300.
Our 2016 water quality data is out. Read the report by clicking the image above or request free copies at 215.685.6300 or waterinfo@phila.gov

Philadelphia residents have 24/7 access to top-quality water, a fact that they check themselves thanks to annual reports the Philadelphia Water Department releases detailing a year's worth of data.

This transparency is a defining quality for public water providers like PWD, and we take pride in the tremendous effort that goes into the constant monitoring done at our labs.

During our most recent fiscal year, we delivered nearly 82 billion gallons of water to local homes, businesses, schools and other organizations. On average, our customers used 223 million gallons of clean water every single day.   

Making sure that water is great water that beats Safe Drinking Water Act standards is what drives us, and we're proud to provide this year's reportthe result of more than 10,000 monthly lab tests conducted by our scientists during 2016.

Read it now in English or Spanish or check out the audio version.     

In addition to the water quality data, you will find info about:

  • New programs and efforts to remove lead service lines from customer properties and educate people about getting safe water when your home does have lead pipes
  • How we get water from the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers and what we do to protect our source water and watersheds
  • Why we help residents build landscaped rain gardens in their yards with matching funds of up to $2,000
  • How we monitor the water, what we look for and how our scientists deal with issues as they emerge
  • New educational programs offered through the Fairmount Water Works
  • What you can do to care for our source water at home
  • Who to call if you suspect illegal dumping in waterways or storm drain inlets
  • Local watershed groups looking for volunteers 

Give it a read now and let others know where to find this valuable information.

To receive a printed copy of this report in the mail, contact our Public Affairs staff at waterquality@phila.gov

With help from Residents, Point Breeze Vacant Lot Is Becoming a River-Protecting Green Space

Point Breeze Cleanup & Block Party - June 2017

After two hot hours of picking up trash, weed-whacking, and sweeping at a vacant lot in Point Breeze, PowerCorps PHL’s Desmon Richardson, on hand with fellow crew members to bring some added muscle to the effort, suggested lining the small, triangular space with unused rocks from a pile sitting in the middle of the site.

Neighbors who’d been helping agreed: the natural-looking border was the perfect finishing touch for the renewed lot, concluding a sticky Saturday morning spent cleaning up the local eyesore.

Members of the Philadelphia Water Department’s Public Engagement team joined the local non-profit Diversified Community Services and area block captains on June 10 to clean the publicly-owned lot at Point Breeze Avenue and Mifflin Street—the future home of a rain garden that will soak up stormwater and bring regular maintenance to the site through Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program.

Similar efforts in other neighborhoods have led to dramatic improvements at formerly nuisance-plagued lots, something locals are hoping to repeat here.

Submersible Science: Philly Students Launch Underwater Drone with PWD

Submersible Science: Philly Students Launch Underwater Drone with PWD

While most Philadelphia students were heading home early due a heat wave this past Tuesday, four 11th grade students from Mariana Bracetti Academy were busy suiting up in full-body chest waders, a necessary piece of gear for the mission at hand: launching a submersible, camera-equipped drone in Frankford Creek.

Undaunted by the steamy temps, the students’ maiden voyage was the culmination of five weekly afterschool sessions they had spent assembling the drone through a program called greenSTEM. An effort of the Philadelphia Water Department, the educational program shows local students how jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields support the department’s watershed protection work.

Built using a kit greenSTEM instructors Matthew Fritch and Maria Horowitz obtained with the Fairmount Water Works through a CUSP (Climate & Urban Systems Partnership) grant, the propeller-driven rover fits in a suitcase and resembles a mashup of the original R2-D2 and a tabletop video projector.

Clearly eager to give it a spin, students Manuela Duran, Angel Cruz, Luz Gonzalez-Mateo and Candy Lucero-Sanchez were joined along Juniata Golf Club section of the stream by their teacher, Lauren DeHart.

Start a Conversation About Protecting Water: Add Wildlife Markers to Your Block

Adding our storm drain markers—each with a unique type of aquatic wildlife depending on your watershed—to your block can start a conversation with neighbors about how communities can protect local waterways.

Many people don't realize that what goes down storm drains can harm local animals like otters, turtles, herons, endangered fish and more.

The truth is, cleaner neighborhoods and cleaner streets mean cleaner Philly rivers and creeks!

Find out what watershed you live in here and then sign up for a free wildlife marker kit featuring your local watershed!

Below: Check out our PhillyH2O Instagram series exploring the wildlife on each watershed's marker:

Poquessing Watershed: Bog Turtle

Happy #WorldTurtleDay #Philly! Did you know that the bog turtle—the smallest North American turtle, rarely exceeding 4 inches!—is featured on our #Poquessing Watershed storm drain markers? Sadly, these cute little guys are threatened in #Pennsylvania due to the loss of habitat. They need clean wetlands with saturated soil that's deep and mucky. You can protect their home by keeping our streets and parks clean and free of harmful chemicals like spilled motor oil. Use our profile link to find out what critter is featured in your watershed and sign up for a free marking kit to do a cool #volunteer activity in your neighborhood! #PHL #CleanWatersPHL #KeepItCleanPhilly #Stormdrains #PoquessingWatershed #threatenedspecies #wildPA #urbanwildlife #bogturtle #ProtectTheSchuylkill #ProtectTheDelaware #EstuaryPeople #SchuylkillRiver #DelawareRiver

A post shared by Philadelphia Water Dept. (@phillyh2o) on

Wissahickon Watershed: Red Salamander

We had so much fun sharing yesterday’s bog turtle storm drain marker for the Poquessing Watershed, we’re going to share each of Philly’s watershed markers + a fun fact about the featured critter over the next six days. Today: the Wissahickon Watershed’s marker, which features the brilliant northern red salamander, known as Pseudotriton ruber. The temperate forests found along the #WissahickonCreek/@wissahickonwatershed provide ideal habitat for this amphibian, which can be as long as 7 inches. They like to eat bugs, worms, spiders, snails, small crustaceans and even smaller salamanders. Female red salamanders don’t mature until they are around five years old. Fun fact: As a member of the Plethodontidae family these bright red salamanders lack lungs and breathe through their skin! While abundant in #Pennsylvania and found throughout much of the Eastern U.S., they are considered endangered in Indiana. Think you might live in the Wissahickon Watershed? Use our profile link to find out + sign up for free storm drain marking kits so your neighbors know they can help protect the red salamander by keeping our streets and storm drains free of litter and harmful chemicals. You can also help protect their habitat by volunteering with groups like the @fowissahickon In this gallery: A great photo of #PseudotritonRuber from @kyleshikes + a map of the Wissahickon (black lines are #Philly limits) Watershed’s boundaries from our watershed locator, available in the profile link. - - - - #reptilesandamphibians #paherps #whyilovephilly #CleanWatersPHL #PaWildlife #phillyh2o #urbanwildlife

A post shared by Philadelphia Water Dept. (@phillyh2o) on

Tookany/Tacony-Frankford: Great Blue Heron

Next in our series exploring our watershed storm drain markers: the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford’s Great Blue Heron. Swipe through this gallery to see a photo of a #TaconyCreek #blueheron pic from @ttfwatershed’s Robin Irizarry & a map of the watershed. (Use profile link to see if you live in the the watershed/get a free kit with this marker) N. America’s largest + most widespread heron, they stand tall on thin, lanky legs & have a stunning wingspan of up to 6.6 feet—way taller than the average person in America! Their striking appearance makes them seem much heavier than they actually are; they typically only weigh 5 to 6 pounds. Blue Herons are excellent hunters. If you hike quietly on the #TaconyCreekTrail, there’s a chance you’ll get to watch one of these birds as they stalk prey in the water, standing motionless for long periods until their next snack reveals itself. Places like #TaconyCreekPark provide an excellent place to hunt their favorite meal: fish. Healthy creeks also contain smaller creatures heron love to munch on, including salamanders, frogs, snakes & small rodents. The #AudubonSociety even reports birds seen stalking gophers in fields! Fun fact: If you visit the @audubonsociety profile on blue heron at Audubon.org, you can hear some of the wild noises they make, such as the croaks given upon landing, alarm croaks, their calls, the clattering of their nestlings and other sounds from blue heron colonies. We don’t know what dinosaurs sounded like, but we sure can imagine them sounding like these guys! Live in the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed? Use our profile link to sign up for free storm drain marking kits so your neighbors know they can help protect the Great Blue Heron by keeping our streets and storm drains free of litter and harmful chemicals. @ttfwatershed also offers lots of volunteer and #birding activities. H/T to #phillyartist @louis_a_cook for designing this series with PWD! #igers_philly #phillygram #pabirding #BirdPhilly #NEPhilly #tacony #taconycreek #FrankfordCreek #cleanWatersPHL #watershedstewardsPHL #Phillywatersheds #pawildlife #urbanwildlife #phillynature #circuittrails #whyilovephilly #onthecircuit

A post shared by Philadelphia Water Dept. (@phillyh2o) on

Delaware Direct Watershed: American Shad

We are extremely excited to share #4 in our #PhillyWatersheds storm drain marker wildlife series because 2017 has been a huge migration year for the Delaware River Watershed’s species—the American shad! Use our profile link to see if you live in the watershed & order free sidewalk marking kits featuring this native fish. (Swipe through this gallery to see PWD scientist Joe Perillo w/ an American shad, shad migration up the #FairmountFishway + a map of the Delaware Direct Watershed.) A member of the herring family that spawns in the #DelawareRiver and #SchuylkillRiver but spends most of its life in saltwater, Alosa sapidissima have a rich history in #Philly. Pulitzer-winning environmental writer #JohnMcPhee dubbed them the “founding fish” because they’re credited with saving George Washington’s troops from starvation following the infamous winter encampment at #ValleyForge. Shad populations have been recovering from a devastating drop during the 20th century thanks to improving #waterquality, fishing regulations and other efforts, and this spring has seen a truly stunning migration as the #foundingfish returns to spawn in Philadelphia’s rivers. Many experts and fisherman are saying this has been the greatest spring spawning run in their lifetimes, and our own biologists have been documenting over 100 fish per minute while conducting #electrofishing sampling. We hope to share official estimates once the spring run concludes. Fun fact: Thanks to fish ladders like the one PWD maintains at the #FairmountDam (located across the river from @FairmountWW/@philamuseum), these returning fish can access upper reaches of rivers like the #Schuylkill. Swipe right to see a video of shad swimming up the ladder. If you live in the #DelawareWatershed use our profile link to sign up for free #stormdrainmarking kits so your neighbors know they can help protect the American shad by keeping our streets and storm drains free of litter and harmful chemicals. You can also help protect the Delaware by getting involved with groups like the @delawareestuary _ _ _ _ #estuaryscience #estuarypeople #science #cleanwatersphl #fieldwork #estuarycollaboration #shadfishing #sh

A post shared by Philadelphia Water Dept. (@phillyh2o) on

Pennypack Watershed: Damselfly

We hope you had a good Memorial Day, #Philly! We’re continuing our #PhillyWatersheds storm drain marker wildlife series by diving into the #Pennypack Watershed. Featured on these markers is an insect that was flying around before dinosaurs even existed—the damselfly. Swipe through the gallery to see a Seepage Dancer damselfly from Pa.’s @northbranchlandtrust, a map of the #PennypackWatershed and the often-unseen damselfly nymph. Use profile link to get your free marker kits. These brightly colored creatures inhabit small bodies of water and feast on aquatic insects that live close to the surface. While they are predators, their smaller size compared to their relatives, the dragonfly, also makes them prey. With four wings that can beat 20-45 times per minute, damselflies can make quick, sudden getaways. While most people only see them as flying adults, they spend the first part of their lives under water as nymphs, sometimes living and hunting in the water for years. This fact makes them a favorite food for fish like trout, and storm drain marker artist @louis_a_cook cook selected them to represent Philadelphia’s aquatic insects because the Pennypack Creek is a favorite local trout stream where fly fishermen often imitate both nymph-stage and adult damselflies. Fun Fact: #Damselflies have massive eyes that give them nearly 360-degree vision. Because their young are sensitive to water pollution, the presence of damselflies is often the sign of a healthy ecosystem and great water quality. Thanks to improved watershed protection and organizations like @fopennypackpark, @pennypackfarm, Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust and other groups that help keep the watershed clean, #PennypackCreek is an ideal place for damselflies to reside. Live in the Pennypack Watershed? Use our profile link to sign up for free storm drain marking kits so your neighbors know they can help protect the #damselfly by keeping our streets and storm drains free of litter and harmful chemicals. _ _ #igers_philly #phillygram #cleanWatersPHL #pawildlife #urbanwildlife #phillynature #circuittrails #whyilovephilly #entomology #bioindicators #patrout #pennypack #pennypacktrust #pennypackpark

A post shared by Philadelphia Water Dept. (@phillyh2o) on

Schuylkill River Watershed: N. American River Otter

No. 6 in our #PhillyWatersheds storm drain marker wildlife series = practically a #Philly celebrity—the #Schuylkill’s N. American River Otter! Use our profile link find out if you live in this cute guy’s watershed and we’ll send you free kits to mark your street. Swipe for: #SchuylkillWatershed map + video of an otter passing through our #fishladder across from the @FairmountWW Why they’re popular: They’re cute & more people are seeing these very shy animals in the river near the @PhilaMuseum & @boathouse_row. Water pollution and over-trapping made otters scarce until recently. #CleanWaterAct & #wastewater control have helped bring them back. #SchuylkillOtters eat: Mostly fish, frogs & crustaceans like crayfish—all found in good numbers in the watershed. They live for up to 13 years in the wild, and typically have 1-3 #otterpups at a time. Fun Fact: River otters can close their ears & nostrils to keep water out, dive up to 60 ft. deep, & stay underwater for up to 8 minutes! Litter that gets washed into our rivers and streams can harm otters, as trash like plastic bags can entangle them. Chemicals like motor oil spilled in streets hurt their water too. Sign up for a free otter marking kit NOW to help your neighborhood learn that cleaner streets = cleaner rivers and creeks for our aquatic wildlife! You can also get involved with groups like @schuylkillwaters! _ _ _ #igers_philly #whyilovephilly #CleanWatersPHL #SchuylkillWaters #SchuylkillSoJourn #phillygram #fairmountpark #schuylkillriver #schuylkillrivertrail #ProtectTheSchuylkill #paWildlife #urbanwildlife #otters #LontraCanadensis #phillycares #zerowastephilly #PickItUpPhilly #SchuylkillRiver #SchuylkillBanks #GreenCityCleanWaters #schuylkillrivertrail

A post shared by Philadelphia Water Dept. (@phillyh2o) on

Darby-Cobbs Watershed: Shortnose Sturgeon

Today we look at our final #PhillyWatersheds storm drain wildlife marker: #CobbsCreek’s shortnose sturgeon. Use our profile link to get free kits & mark your street! These endangered fish are often called “living fossils” for a reason: they’re among the oldest of a prehistoric type of bony fish that—resembling swimming dinosaurs—feature armored, boney plates called “scutes.” Swipe through to see an adult fish from the @ noaafisheries site + video of adult shortnose shared by the Delaware River Basin Commission. While they can be over 4 ft. long, they’re the smallest sturgeon species. Philadelphia is an important area for this fish, as they migrate to spawning areas above the city and return to our urban Delaware River habitat afterward in the spring. What they eat: According @wildlifenj to these unusual fish feel along the bottom with sensory “barbell” organs and vacuum up crustaceans, bugs, freshwater clams and mussels, snails, marine worms, crustaceans, small flounder, and a variety of other organisms. Fun Fact: Males can live to be 32 … but the ladies? They can be as old as 67! In just one spawning event, females produce anywhere from 40,000 to 200,000 eggs. Like several others species in featured in our marker series, a combination of overharvesting (their eggs were highly prized as caviar) and poor water quality wiped out shortnose sturgeon. Today, there are an estimated 12,000 of these #EndangeredSpeciesAct-protected fish in the #DelawareEstuary. PWD aquatic biologist Joe Perillo says that they’re a “big river fish” and not likely to be found in the #DarbyCobbsCreek. So why feature them on our Cobbs marker? Because keeping our tributaries healthy is a key part of keeping the larger Delaware River Watershed healthy! Use our profile link now to see if you live in the #CobbsWatershed and get FREE shortnose sturgeon kits to start a conversation with your @cobbscreekneighbor (s) on your block about protecting water! _ #CleanWatersPHL #igers_philly #whyilovephilly #phillygram #paWildlife #urbanwildlife #phillycares #zerowastephilly #PickItUpPhilly #shortnosesturgeon #watershedstewardsphl #sturgeon #cobbs #wildlifenj #wildlnj #PAWildlife #cleanwater #darbycreek

A post shared by Philadelphia Water Dept. (@phillyh2o) on