'5 Down' Video Recap: Green City, Clean Waters Praised as 'a model for America'

You might have heard: Philadelphia is celebrating five years of Green City, Clean Waters, a massive green investment in neighborhoods that is now keeping 1.5 billion gallons of polluted water out of our waterways over the course of a typical year of rainfall.

Philadelphia Water gathered with the wide range of partners who made beating our five-year targets for greening and pollution reduction possible to mark that achievement at the Fairmount Water Works last week. (See great photos of the event here.) The celebration included speeches from our commissioner, Debra McCarty, and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection.

City of Philadelphia Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis—one of Philadelphia’s most dedicated advocates for improved recreation and green spaces—praised the program as a "model for America."

Philly STEM Students Hack Rain Barrel, Invent Ultimate Chill Spot

What do you get when you combine lawn furniture, green infrastructure and electronics?

This isn't a joke—this is B-Cubed a.k.a. Bench/Barrel/Boost, a multipurpose creation fusing a shaded bench, a rain barrel, and a solar-powered cell phone charging station.

Philadelphia Water teamed up with 9th grade students at Science Leadership Academy's Beeber campus and the design geniuses at Public Workshop to brainstorm and build this hard-to-miss, difficult-to-describe object, which is now installed at SLA Beeber's schoolyard.

Given the popularity of our Rain Check program, Philly already seems to know rain barrels are important—they act as small stormwater reservoirs, allowing homeowners to manage runoff from roofs and contribute to the overall goal of Green City, Clean Waters. (Read more about rain barrels and sign up to get your own free one here.) The SLA Beeber schoolyard could use a rain barrel to help with watering raised planter beds, but the school building has no exterior downspouts.

The solution? Make our own canopy to funnel stormwater into the barrel. We also imagined what other functions the funnel could perform—a hammock, a skate ramp, a planter?

Public Workshop's Nick Nawa came up with an excellent design that incorporated some key amenities students wanted for their schoolyard: a comfortable place to hang out and a phone charger. Some students developed carpentry skills such as measuring and cutting angles with the chop saw and table saw; others assembled a prototype and final version using hand drills and a nail gun; others learned to solder the circuit boards used to charge phones from solar panels.

Creating a multi-purpose object such as B-Cubed, it turns out, requires multiple skill sets.

Thanks to the SLA Beeber students and staff, to Public Workshop, and to all who helped to complete this unique project. Read more about B-Cubed here and check out some of the other STEM projects Philadelphia Water has brought to city schools and classrooms through their greenSTEM Network program.

This post was written by Philadelphia Water Environmental Engineer Matthew Fritch, who helped found the greenSTEM program through Code for Philly. Fritch has helped Philadelphia students connect STEM projects and watershed stewardship through a number of innovative projects, including B-Cubed.

Big News: Green City, Clean Waters Blows Past Year Five Targets

Philadelphia Water Commissioner Debra McCarty and City of Philadelphia Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis (right) announce that Philadelphia more than doubled five-year pollution reduction targets. Credit: Brian Rademaekers/Philadelphia Water
Philadelphia Water Commissioner Debra McCarty and City of Philadelphia Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis (right) announce that Philadelphia more than doubled five-year pollution reduction targets. Credit: Brian Rademaekers/Philadelphia Water

The City of Philadelphia announced a major achievement accomplished through the Green City, Clean Waters program at a June 16 celebration marking the five-year anniversary of the Green Stormwater Infrastructure plan’s adoption.

Joined by community and business partners, industry experts, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garwin, Pa. DEP Regional Director Cosmo Servidio and City of Philadelphia Managing Director Michael DiBeradinis at the historic Fairmount Water Works, officials from Philadelphia Water unveiled figures showing that the City more than doubled five-year pollution reduction targets established at the start of the Green City, Clean Waters program in June 2011.

Have a Few Minutes to Help Us Serve You Better?


Click the image to take the survey. You could win one of many $100 gift cards. 

We work extremely hard to protect our rivers and provide our 1.5 million customers with top-quality drinking water, and we want to make sure that water also comes with top-quality customer service.

That’s why we want to hear from you. We’ve teamed up with Temple University’s Institute for Survey Research to offer a survey aimed at learning more about what we can do to improve the services we provide.

Residents who take the survey will have a chance to win a $100 gift card, and there are three easy ways to give your input:

1. Go to www.phlwatersurvey.com and complete online

2. Call 215.204.5858 and complete over the phone

3. Text @WATER to 73940

Want to know more? Here’s a quick FAQ:

Record-Setting ‘Sojourn’ Highlights the Schuylkill River’s Wild Beauty

Philadelphia Water's Paul Fugazzotto paddles to the finish of the 2016 Schuylkill Sojourn. A record 205 people joined the annual event this year. Photo credit: Brian Rademaekers
Philadelphia Water's Paul Fugazzotto paddles to the finish of the 2016 Schuylkill Sojourn. A record 205 people joined the annual event this year. Photo credit: Brian Rademaekers

If you happened to be in Philadelphia admiring the Schuylkill River’s picturesque beauty from afar last week, you might have been startled by what appeared to be an enormous flock of florescent birds, all of them rhythmically flapping their wings on the shimmering water:

Those “birds,” of course, were actually the 100-plus paddlers propelling the rainbow of brightly hued kayaks and canoes that made up the annual Schuylkill Sojourn. A seven day journey covering 112 miles of the Schuylkill River from its Schuylkill County headwaters all the way to Philadelphia’s Boathouse Row, the event has been held since 1998.

Get Wild about Watersheds, Urban Greening and West Philly Nature

Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly takes residents on a nature walk highlighting wildlife and green infrastructure around Papa Playground in West Philadelphia. Join Philadelphia Water and Wild West Philly for special nature walk on June 25. Photo Credit: Joe Piette
Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly takes residents on a nature walk highlighting wildlife and green infrastructure around Papa Playground in West Philadelphia. Join Philadelphia Water and Wild West Philly for special nature walk on June 25. Photo Credit: Joe Piette

Philadelphia Water is all about helping people understand the ways in which our lives and communities are intimately connected to the local waterways that sustain us.

We know—living in a big city like Philadelphia, it can be easy to forget that we’re still a part of a natural world that includes waterways like the Cobbs Creek and Delaware River. Luckily, we have lots of residents who care about nature and want to learn more.

That’s why we’re teaming up with Naturalist Interpreter Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly (one of our watershed partnership groups) for a special walk on Saturday, June 25 at the historic Mt. Moriah Cemetery, much of which has been reclaimed by nature. (RSVP for this free event here.)

Philadelphia Water Challenge Seeks Innovative Approach to Streamlining Green Infrastructure Projects

The Philadelphia GSI Innovation Challenge seeks to make projects like the stormwater tree trenches seen above more efficient by improving the subsurface analysis that takes place before construction. Learn more at BigIdeasPHL.com. Credit: Philadelphia Water
The Philadelphia GSI Innovation Challenge seeks to make projects like the stormwater tree trenches seen above more efficient by improving the subsurface analysis that takes place before construction. Learn more at BigIdeasPHL.com. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Philadelphia Water, in partnership with the City’s Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), and the internationally renowned Citymart organization, is proud to present the Philadelphia Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Innovation Challenge.

Sustainability First Friday in Fishtown: Celebrate 5 Years of Cleaner Water Through Greener Neighborhoods

What we’re celebrating: After five years of Green City, Clean Waters, Philadelphia has enough green infrastructure/improved stormwater management to reduce pollution by over 600 million gallons in 2016.
What we’re celebrating: After five years of Green City, Clean Waters, Philadelphia has enough green infrastructure/improved stormwater management to reduce pollution by over 600 million gallons in 2016.

Philadelphia Water will be celebrating a major Green City, Clean Waters achievement—meeting the program’s five-year pollution-reduction targets—at Fishtown’s Lutheran Settlement House (LSH) during the neighborhood’s Sustainability First Friday gathering on June 3 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Members of our Public Engagement team will be at the site’s community garden/farm with a cool model that shows how green stormwater infrastructure works, and students from the after school program will be learning all about water systems and sustainability. First Friday-goers are invited to join in, and we’ll have special Green City, Clean Waters cards that let you show your support for protecting our rivers with green investments in a fun way.