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:

Can You Decode Street Paint?

Beneath your feet, there’s an invisible universe of infrastructure.

This world is hidden from view, but painted lines on the surface reveal exactly what’s there—if you know what to look for. Swipe through this gallery featured on our Instagram account to find out what commonly seen paint colors on the street mean:

Philadelphia Water Department Customers Can Win $100, Improve Services with New Survey

Any customer over 18 is eligible to take the Philadelphia Water survey available by texting @WATER to 39242. Participants will automatically enter a raffle to win one of many $100 gift cards.

As part of ongoing efforts to improve our work and better understand the needs of customers, the Philadelphia Water Department is conducting a comprehensive survey intended collect feedback on a wide range of services.

The 2017 Customer Feedback Survey, made possible through a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, measures public opinion and allows the department to gauge what people in Philadelphia think about PWD and the services we provide.

Any customer over 18 is eligible to take the surveyParticipants will automatically enter a raffle to win one of many $100 gift cards. Survey instructions have been included in a flyer sent along with May 2017 water bills.

The survey can be accessed online here or by texting @WATER to 39242.

Just One Water Main Replacement Project = 4X the Comcast Center, And Some

This blog is part of our Infrastructure Week 2017 campaign. See our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for exclusive content not available on the blog. We’ll be talking about a variety of projects and topics May 15-19. Learn more about the infrastructure that keeps our city running and help us make the case for smart investments in our nation’s water, roads, bridges, airports and more.

If you follow local news at all, you’ve probably seen some of the dramatic footage showing major water main breaks that have left the stores of Bakers Centre in East Falls flooded three times in just three years:

Breaks like those at Bakers Centre are unusual for a few reasons, not least of which is amount of water that spilled. In Philadelphia over the last five years, we’ve average a little over two main breaks per day—a rate that is actually less than the national average. Most of our breaks involve mains that are under two inches in diameter and don’t make the news because the impacts are, in comparison, minor.

Infrastructure Week 2017: Our Time to Build

Infrastructure Week 2017

May 15-19 is Infrastructure Week 2017, and the Philadelphia Water Department is joining fellow utilities, cities, organizations and businesses around the country to highlight the importance of investing in infrastructure.

Infrastructure is what makes our communities work. It’s the investments we make together to make life better.
Generations before us had the vision to build roads, bridges, water mains and sewers, treatment plants, airports and more—all for a more prosperous future where people can count on basics like access to clean water.

Now, it’s our time to build and to take care of what those generations built for us.

Follow our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for exclusive content not available on the blog and check back for posts about big projects, innovative "living infrastructure" and more. You can also visit the Infrastructure Week site to get tools for your own infrastructure advocacy. 

To kick the week off, we’re sharing a piece Mayor Jim Kenney authored for the influential Brookings Institution think tank about the role Green City, Clean Waters can play in growing our city’s green workforce:

Here's a short video about our work that was posted to Facebook:

Love Your Park: Celebrate the Green Spaces Protecting Your Water

From the very beginning, the Fairmount Park system has been an important tool for protecting Philadelphia’s rivers and streams, and to read the history of our park system is to read a story of city planners striving to create natural buffers to protect rivers and streams from industry and development.

Rather than evolving away from that original purpose, our parks are today actually becoming more and more important for protecting the city’s seven watersheds.

As Philadelphians gather for Love Your Park Week—a celebration of our green spaces involving more than 80 volunteer service days and 40-plus special events in parks across Philadelphia from May 13-21—many of them will be tending to Parks and Recreation facilities that now feature special green tools created through the Green City, Clean Waters program.

The Philadelphia Water Department’s partnership with Parks and Recreation has been essential in achieving the ambitious goals of Green City, Clean Waters: drastically reducing pollution from runoff and sewer overflows through the creation of green infrastructure systems that soak up water from storms while creating new green spaces in our neighborhoods.

In 2016, Philadelphia celebrated the program’s fifth year and the fact that we’re exceeding greening and water quality targets set back when PWD proposed the nation’s first large-scale green stormwater infrastructure program.

Without the robust support of Parks and Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and groups like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Trust for Public Land, that might not be the case.