Raise a glass to celebrate 40 Years of the Safe Drinking Water Act!

Photo by Bill Kelly

Happy Birthday, Safe Water Drinking Act!
You truly are getting better with age!

On December 16, 1974, President Gerald R. Ford signed Washington Democratic Senator Warren Magnuson’s Senate Bill 433 into law creating Public Law 93-523: the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The law went into effect the next day and authorized the EPA “to set national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water.”

The law has been amended twice (1986 and 1996) to include many actions that protect drinking water and the rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs and wells that supply it. As part of our compliance with the EPA’s regulations, PWD produces an annual Drinking Water Quality Report  and maintains a Source Water Protection Program that has made our Delaware and Schuylkill watersheds cleaner now than they have been in over a century! Of course we still face many challenges to keeping our rivers and drinking water clean, but, hey, it’s what we love to do!

Most of us don’t give a second thought when we put our glass under our tap and fill it with water. And that’s true whether we’re taking that drink here in Philadelphia or in a hotel in Hawaii or a campground in Alaska. Aside from very rare instances (and for PWD customers, so rare to be virtually non-existent), the water from our tap can be trusted to be clean and safe, in part, because of compliance with the SDWA and the billions of dollars of infrastructure investment that keeping in compliance has required. That we can take our tap for granted is even more amazing when you consider how many parts of the world—for lack of funding, dysfunctional governments, or natural shortages—spend a major part of their daily lives finding drinkable water.

To hear PWD Commissioner Neukrug's interview on WHYY's RadioTimes about the Safe Drinking Water Act, click here.

Did you know....

  • In Philadelphia the cost of 50 glasses of water is less than a penny!
  • PWD monitors Philadelphia's water 24/7 at three treatment and at checkpoints throughout our delivery system.
  • It's estimated that 25% to 40% of all bottled water is taken from the municpal water supply. 
  • There is more fresh water in the atmosphere than in all of the rivers on the planet combined.
  • 75% of a chicken, 80% of a pineapple, and 95% of a tomato is water.
  • It is possible for people today to drink water that was part of the dinosaur era!

To celebrate, raise a glass of cool, delicious (and safe) tap water (or eight ten-ounce glasses if you want to get the 2.5 quarts the EPA recommends you drink to “maintain health”) and read up on what YOU can do as an individual to help US keep your drinking water clean and safe.

Photo credit: Bill Kelly
sources: Philadelphia Water Department, EPA water trivia page, EPA's Drinking Water Facts and Figures

PWD wins EPA Award for Turning Poop Into Power!

Amanda Byrne accepts EPA Green Power Leadership Award
PWD Energy Team member Amanda Byrne accepts EPA Green Energy Leadership Award 

It’s not often that PWD gets to share the stage with tech superstars Apple and Google, the design mavens at Herman Miller, or the cool kids at REI and Trek Bicycles. But on December 3rd at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Sacramento, PWD Energy Team member Amanda Byrne (pictured above) represented the city of Philadelphia, which received one of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Awards in the On-site Green Power Generation category. The award recognizes “achievements in advancing the nation’s renewable energy market and reducing greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change.” 

Philadelphia received the award because of the Greenworks plan and its commitment to purchase and generate 20 percent of its electricity from alternative energy sources. A big step towards reaching that target comes from PWD’s Biogas Cogeneration Facility at the Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP), where we’re literally turning the city’s poop into power! The award also recognizes two additional green power projects by PWD, a sewage geothermal installation and solar photovoltaic system, both at PWD’s Southeast WPCP.

The 5.6 megawatt Biogas Cogeneration Facility—our largest green power project to date—came online just about one year ago today and produces about 40 million kilowatt-hours annually. This is the equivalent of avoiding 32,300 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year, the same as taking over 5,000 cars off the road! This facility is also estimated to save $12 million over the course of the next 16 years by producing 85% of the plant’s annual electricity needs right on site.

How does it work? It’s diagram time!
Biogas Cogeneration Diagram 

This plant’s primary responsibility is removing pollutants from our wastewater before sending that water back into the ecosystem. And we’ve figured out how to take the very… uh… stuff (this is a family blog, after all) we pull out of the water and use it to produce fuel for running the plant! So… yeah. Keep flushing Philadelphia!

This is the second EPA Green Power Leadership Award for the City of Philadelphia, which also won in 2012 for Green Power Purchasing. Want to learn more about the EPA’s Green Power Leaders and see who else got to share the stage with PWD and Google? Check out the EPA’s release here.

Stanley's Hardware Named First Stormwater Pioneer

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“You don’t get a chance very often in life to be a pioneer at anything,” noted Stanley’s True Value Hardware President Mark Jaconski, who with his brother Joe was honored as Philadelphia’s first Stormwater Pioneer. “Our father and grandfather pioneered the business.  We’re just doing our part to help the environment,” he explained, as dozens of customers, employees, neighbors, Philadelphia Water Department executives, City Council representatives and community members applauded their efforts.

Stanley’s Hardware was recognized for excellence in stormwater management and the site will be a model for business owners and private developers who want to reduce runoff from their properties. PWD and the Jackonskis unveiled a Stormwater Pioneers plaque for the property and the brothers were presented with a City Council Citation by Josh Cohen of Councilman Curtis Jones’ office. 

The ceremony, covered by both Newsworks and the Roxborough Review of Montgomery Media, also recognized Ruggiero Plante Land Design in Manayunk for designing the stormwater management strategy. It includes a highly-visible rain garden adjacent to the store’s parking lot and two underground infiltration basins. Together, the system manages over 3,000 cubic feet of runoff.

The Jaconski brothers built a new store on the site of their family’s 66-year old business, tripling its size and doubling both the business and the staff. The business goals established for year 10 have been achieved in year two. 

Case in point, according to Jim Evans, owner of nearby Bob’s Diner, the Jaconski brothers are an inspiration to other business owners on Ridge Avenue. “When I saw what they did on their property, I decided to plant vegetation to do my part for the environment and the neighborhood.”

For more information, visit PWD’s Stormwater Pioneers webpage.

Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking Ceremony Postponed Again

Mother nature strikes again! Due to the inclement weather, the Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking rescheduled for this afternoon (12/9/14) has been postponed again. A new date for this event will be announced soon and we hope you can join us then to launch this exciting project.

PWD is one of many partners working on the Ralph Brooks revitalization. To learn more about this project and how it involves Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin, click here.

Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking Rescheduled

We are pleased to announce the new date for the Ralph Brooks Groubdbreaking.

WHAT: Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking
WHEN: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 2:30 PM
WHERE: Ralph Brooks Park, 20th and Tasker Streets

Rendering of Ralph Brooks Park

Please join Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin, Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, State Representative Jordan Harris, PWD Deputy Commissioner Chris Crockett and other partners as we break ground on a revitalization project for Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. 

Ralph Brooks Tot Lot, a small playground with basketball courts and a play area for children, was named after a seven year old boy who was shot and paralyzed at the site in 1988. The shooting galvanized the community and the park has carried his name as a symbol against violence ever since. The park, now over 25 years old, has seen better days...and soon it will again.

After years of hard work, fundraising and collaboration, multiple partners have joined forces to revitalize Ralph Brooks Park. Tuesday will be the groundbreaking for the first phase of the project, which will include new basketball courts, new play equipment, sidewalk improvements, tree plantings and a rain garden which will manage stormwater runoff from the site.

PWD is proud to be involved with multiple partners working on this project:

To download a .pdf flyer for this groundbreaking event, click here.

1st Annual Mill Creek Tour


Mill Creek can be found on 19th century maps of Philadelphia, draining more than 4,000 acres of West Philadelphia with its main stem and tributaries. Look at a map today and you may find names associated with the waterway, but you won’t find any signs of the stream itself. So what happened to Mill Creek? To find out, join Adam Levine and Drew Brown of the Philadelphia Water Department on a bus tour that will explore the history of the old creek. Tracing its now hidden path, you will hear stories about the creek itself as well as the industry and farmland once found along its banks. The tour will include a discussion about the consequences of burying a creek in a pipe and building a city above it.


Each participant will receive an illustrated booklet highlighting the creek's past and present, as well as a map showing where the stream once ran. All money collected from the tour will go directly to the Overbrook Environmental Education Center, which works to improve the environment of the Overbrook neighborhood through a variety of programs. Participants are welcome to learn more about the OEEC and visit its facilities at the end of the tour.


Mill Creek Bus Tour with Adam Levine and Drew Brown of PWD
Saturday, December 6, 2014 8:45

am to 1:00 pm COST: $10 per person

Space is limited. Please call (215) 879-7770 to check availability and reserve your spot. This tour will be offered again in the near future. 

The bus will leave from and return to Overbrook Environmental Education Center, 6134 Lancaster Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19151. Tour will be held rain or shine, but IN CASE OF ICE OR SNOW, it may be postponed. For information, call OEEC the morning of the tour at (215) 879-7770.

Congratulations to Stanley's True Value Hardware

Stanley’s True Value Hardware: Environmental Dedication, Excellent Design

It’s official. PWD named the first Stormwater Pioneer—Stanley’s Hardware in Roxborough. Congratulations to third-generation business owners Mark and Joe Jaconski and their stormwater management design team from Ruggiero Plante Land Design.  At today’s dedication, we recognize the owners and designers of Stanley’s Hardware as role models for business owners and private developers who want to reduce stormwater runoff from their properties. “If everyone does their part, it’s much easier for the City and the Water Department to deal with stormwater,” says Mark.
The Jackonski’s built a new, larger store on the site of their existing business in Roxborough.  As part of the project, they were required to meet PWD’s Stormwater Regulations. In addition to doing a fantastic job meeting the regulations, they also overcame several challenges: keeping the store open while building a new one, working around bedrock at various locations on the property, and protecting neighboring properties.

The stormwater solution developed by Ruggiero Plante Land Design includes two underground infiltration basins that collect runoff from the store’s roof and parking area.  To avoid subsurface bedrock, one of the basins is split into two storage beds hydraulically connected with HDPE pipes.  Above ground, the parking lot drains directly into a rain garden through openings in the curb.  The rain garden collects and filters the runoff through plants and engineered soils.

An elaborate, seven-phase construction plan allowed the existing store to remain open until the new one was ready.  Now business is booming.

“We’re hoping to keep trash, debris and other pollution out of the water so that everyone can enjoy a clean river.  If we can play a small part in making the environment better for the next generation, that’s a major plus for us,” says Joe.

Learn more about Stormwater Pioneers.

Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking Ceremony Postponed

Due to the inclement weather, the Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking Ceremony scheduled for this afternoon (11/17/14) will be postponed. Check back for updates--we will confirm a new date and time for this celebration soon.