A Greener Hackett Elementary Brings Excitement to the Neighborhood

Proposed view of Hackett schoolyard by the Community Design Collaborative

Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School is lucky to have a large schoolyard—nearly an acre of land in the middle of the city—but many people describe it as a “sea of pavement.” As it stands, the schoolyard is almost completely covered in asphalt but will soon transform into a lush green space with benefits for students, the neighboring communities and the environment. Many community members are excited that their kids will have green space to play in and teachers look forward to expanding their curriculum to include the outside environment.

This project demonstrates the power of partnerships and community involvement. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), School District of Philadelphia, Friends of Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School, and the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), and volunteers from the Community Design Collaborative (CDC) worked together on a master plan for the schoolyard that integrates green stormwater infrastructure.

The schoolyard will be outfitted with green stormwater infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff through PWD’s  Green City, Clean Waters plan. The site will be equipped with a rain garden and underground retention basins that will soak up rainwater, filter it and keep it out of the combined sewer system.

Using green stormwater infrastructure at the Hackett School is just one part of the schoolyard revitalization plan. It also includes play and fitness equipment, shade trees, murals, an outdoor classroom, and amenities such as customized swings, accessible ramps and walkways for wheelchairs and students with specialized needs.

Philadelphia Water Department will implement the green stormwater infrastructure elements. To jumpstart the project on the community side, the School leadership and the Friends of Hackett organize work days and are currently raising funds to realize the rest of the plan. You can donate to their cause on their website: http://friendsofhackett.weebly.com

To read more about this project and see pictures of the site, check out this Philadelphia Neighborhoods article Kensington: A Greener Schoolyard for Hackett Elementary.

Register Today For a Fun-Filled Saturday

Photo Credit: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

Have you registered for the 2014 Philly Fun Fishing Fest yet? If not, the last day to register is today!

Spend the morning with your family and friends this Saturday, from 7 A.M to 11 A.M., at the 2014 Philly Fun Fishing Fest. Anglers of all ages are welcome to catch and release fish on the Schuylkill Banks (at Walnut Street) with a chance to win prizes in multiple categories during an awards ceremony at 11:30 A.M. A fishing license is not needed for the competition and fishing gear will be available to borrow on a first-come, first-served basis.

While a fishing license is not required, all anglers must fill out Registration and Release of Liability forms to participate. The registration must be completed ahead of time (by today!) and the release form must be brought on the day of the event in order to participate.

The scheduled rain date is Saturday, September 13th. For more information, please call: 215-685-6300.

After the Fishing Fest, head over to the Delaware River because it’s Pennsylvania Coast Day, which will take place from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. at Walnut Plaza on Penn’s Landing (Columbus Avenue at Walnut Street). Fun activities at this free festival include: boat rides, kayaking, face painting, crafting, an Enviroscape exhibition, and more!

Upcoming Rain Barrel Workshops

 PWD Rain Barrel at the PHS Pop-up Garden, 1438 South Street.

Great news!  We have eight new rain barrel workshops scheduled. Visit our webpage to learn more about the program and sign up for a workshop.

In addition to new workshops, we’re excited to announce that the Rain Barrel Program is now a part of the Philadelphia Water Department’s Rain Check Program and will be managed by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS)  in partnership with the Sustainable Business Network (SBN).  

PWD is still providing the rain barrels and installations FREE to Philadelphia residents.  So don’t hesitate, sign up now  for one of these exciting workshops. After attending a workshop, we will coordinate the installation of a new rain barrel at your home. Can’t make it to Center City for a workshop? Don’t worry, we’ll be scheduling neighborhood workshops soon.

Call for Artists! Sculpture on the Circuit

An estimated one million people use the Schuylkill River Trail throughout the year. The Fairmount Water Works is looking for artists to create prototype art installations for the Schuylkill Trail as part of the Circuit, a 250-mile long series of trails used by joggers, cyclists, commuters and more. The intent of the art installations is to grab the attention of people using the trail and connect them to the river. The art will serve as a creative, fun way to educate trail users about urban watersheds, water quality, history and more. Ideally the artwork will also feature new technologies and online platforms to promote sharing and connect to a large audience.

The selected artists will be a part of the project team led by The Fairmount Water Works, The William Penn Foundation, and Habithèque Inc., and includes Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, City Parks Association, Schuylkill River Development Corp, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bartram’s Gardens, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, and City of Philadelphia representatives.

Together, the project leaders and team will collaborate with the artists to conceptualize and refine their projects into a prototype that will be installed and tested on the circuit. Feedback from trail users and lessons learned during this planning process will then be used to gain support for carrying out the actual works along the Circuit. Applications for this exciting opportunity are due by September 8, 2014.

Click here for the full Request For Qualification document and more information.

PWD’s Fred Feoli rescues kitten from danger

Last month PWD’s Customer Service Unit answered 232 calls from Philadelphians requesting inlet cleaning. On Saturday, July 26th, a normally routine call became an emergency as residents reported a kitten trapped in an inlet near the intersection of Main St. and Roxborough. Fred Feoli of the Inlet Cleaning Crew answered the call.

Several attempts were made to bring the kitten out to safety, but with no luck – as the kitten could not be seen, but only heard. After some quick thinking, Fred removed the trap wall, releasing the kitten from the dirty pipe. Fred’s heroic efforts were witnessed by many in the community, including one neighbor who adopted the kitten.

Well done Fred!

2014 Philly Fun Fishing Fest

Enjoy the last bit of your summer with family and friends at the 2014 Philly Fun Fishing Fest, where everyone is welcome to catch and release fish on Saturday, September 6th from 7 A.M. to 11 A.M.  Anyone can take part in this friendly competition held on Schuylkill Banks (by the Walnut Street Bridge) and have a chance to win prizes in multiple categories during the award ceremony at 11:30 A.M. A fishing license is not needed for the competition. Fishing equipment will be offered for loan on a first-come, first-served basis. *This is the 10 year anniversary for the Philly Fun Fishing Fest, so come out and help us celebrate.

Registration and Releaseof Liability are required to fish at the Fishing Fest. The registration must be completed ahead of time and the release form must be brought on the day of the event in order to participate.

The last day to register is Thursday, September 4th and the scheduled rain date is Saturday, September 13th. For more information, please call: 215-685-6300.

The Wealth of a Healthy Watershed

Humans rely on natural resources and benefit from healthy ecosystems in countless ways—these benefits are called ecosystem services. We have known about the intrinsic value of ecosystem services for a long time, but have been slow to put a dollar amount on that value, largely because it’s difficult to calculate—how do you calculate the financial benefit of clean air?—and because the free market economy developed when natural resources were seemingly endless.  In Jonathan Lerner’s Nature’s Salary, from the July issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, he discusses the concept of payment for ecosystem services (PES), as the “next big thing in conservation,” and cites Philadelphia’s  Green City, Clean Waters plan as one of two case studies that use PES as an innovative, market-based approach to sustainable resource management.  

The 25 year Green City, Clean Waters plan aims to mitigate stormwater runoff and reduce Philadelphia’s Combined Sewer Overflow  by 85% using green stormwater infrastructure that mimics nature, soaking up stormwater with trees, plants and soil. To get private property owners on board with the plan, the PWD applies a payment for ecosystem services approach to stormwater billing, essentially turning water into a commodity. Customers are billed based on the ratio of the total area of the parcel to its impervious area; the more paved, hard surfaces a landowner has, the higher the bill. This PES approach creates a rebate for customers who install green stormwater infrastructure on private land.

Another PES approach cited in Lerner’s article is payment to customers who help mitigate stormwater runoff, instead of billing for the mitigation efforts provided by the municipality. The South Florida Management District’s Dispersed Water Management Plan pays cattle ranchers and other farmers to develop surface storage on their land, reducing the need for expensive measures like building dams or underground storage tanks.

These new PES approaches change the way people relate to their water system and have great promise to be successful role models across the nation.  Read more about the payment for ecosystem services concept and the different approaches being used around the country to change our economic and ecological paradigm.

A Clean River Attracts the Bass

Mike Iaconelli (credit: Alan McGuckin via CBS 3 Philadelphia)
Mike Iaconelli (credit: Alan McGuckin via CBS 3 Philadelphia)

From river testing to Bassmaster – the Delaware River is in the spotlight. Starting last Thursday, Philadelphia welcomed Bassmaster Elite to the banks of the Delaware. This nation-wide tournament, spanning four days, started off with 107 competitors – all competing for the grand prize check worth $100,000. By Saturday the competition cut down to 50, and finally, by Sunday only the top 12 remained.

PWD joins our fellow Philadelphians in sending our congratulations to this year’s winner Michael Laconelli. A Philly native, Laconelli has taken part in almost 200 tournaments in the last few years and has earned more than two million dollars in winnings.

“Bass fishing, professional and recreational, isn’t limited to rural areas or to places where true giant bass live. Philly is about as metropolitan as it gets. And yet, look at the crowds. At the same time, this tournament shows that metropolitan waters produce bass. Nine out of the 12 anglers caught limits today”, wrote Iaconelli on a blog.

Did you know that the Water Department monitors fish species in the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers? Click here to learn more about how PWD studies water quality by tracking the numerous aquatic species in our waterways.