Environment

New Filling Stations, 12,000 Free Reusable Bottles to Fight Plastic Bottle Litter

This graph shows that 55 percent of litter collected from the Schuylkill during recent skimmer boat trips was plastic, and 77 percent of that was platic bottles. SourceL Lance Butler, Philadelphia Water.
Clogging our Rivers: This graph shows that over 55 percent of litter collected from the Schuylkill River during recent skimmer boat trips was plastic, and 77 percent of that was plastic bottles. Click the graph for a larger image. Source: Environmental Restoration & Maintenance,
Office of Watersheds, Philadelphia Water.

Philadelphia Water and a coalition of people and groups who care about our rivers, parks and planet are taking the fight against wasteful single-use water bottles to the Schuylkill River.

Mayor Michael Nutter will join partners in this campaign at Kelly Drive and Fountain Green Drive on Friday, Oct. 23 at 12 p.m. in announcing a new network of water bottle filling stations that will stretch along Kelly Drive from East Falls to Boathouse Row, providing convenient access to free drinking water on one of the region’s most popular recreational trails.

Fightin' Phils: A Caddis Comeback?

The Philopotamid caddisfly larvae. Credit: Philadelphia Water
The Philopotamid caddisfly larvae. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Uh, not those Phils. With 62 losses already in the season and the All-Star break just behind us, we're talking about the comeback of a different kind of “Phils,” the aquatic insects of the family Philopotamidae.

The larvae of these tiny invertebrates, also known as fingernet spinning caddisflies, live under rocks in well-oxygenated areas of streams.
Philadelphia Water scientists have been surveying insects and other forms of aquatic life in Philadelphia area streams for more than 15 years now to assess water quality and habitat conditions. You’d be surprised what you can learn from bugs—they’re a big part of what scientists call “bioindicators.”

The last few years, we've noticed a bit of an uptick in the number of Phils in our samples—a good thing because these little guys are somewhat more sensitive to pollution than many other aquatic insects we usually find in urban streams.

Here's a look at what we've found since 2000:

Above: Percent Philopotamide caddisflies in Philadelphia Water stream survey samples 2000-2014. Note: No samples were taken in 2009-10. Each dot represents a specific sample location. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Above: Percent Philopotamide caddisflies in Philadelphia Water stream survey samples 2000-2014. Note: No samples were taken in 2009-10. Each dot represents a specific sample location.

It's too early to speculate on what might be responsible for the increase. Maybe intense storms in 2004 and 2005 depressed the numbers of Phils and we're just seeing a return to normal conditions. Maybe we're seeing more Phils because we've begun to spread our sampling stations around the various city streams a little more—nobody knows.

But it is, nevertheless, a good sign to see increased numbers of slightly more pollution-sensitive insects. We hope the trend keeps up as more stringent stormwater regulations, introduced July 1, are implemented and Green City, Clean Waters continues to grow. Those efforts will improve dissolved oxygen levels (good news for the Phils) in our waterways by reducing the amount of stormwater pollution entering our rivers and streams.

Read more about what you can do to give these Phils a fightin' chance on the Rain Check page.

Guest blogger Jason Cruz is an aquatic biologist at Philadelphia Water.

DC Reminds Us: The 'Why' Behind Green City, Clean Waters

The Philadelphia skyline frames a stormwater-fighting green roof on the Free Library of Philadelphia. Our city is leading the way on green infrastructure. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
The Philadelphia skyline frames a stormwater-fighting green roof on the Free Library of Philadelphia. Our city is leading the way on green infrastructure. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

We couldn't help but notice all the buzz down in Washington this week as they made the case for green to residents and unveiled revised stormwater plans relying heavily on green infrastructure. We congratulate DC Water on a big step in the right the right direction! Their debut also reminded us of our Green City, Clean Waters rollout way back in 2011, and got us thinking about the "why" behind green infrastructure.

So, why Green City, Clean Waters?

After almost five years of putting green infrastructure into neighborhoods, the answer to that question is clearer than ever. In a nod to the DC Water plan, here are four reasons Green City, Clean Waters is better than just sticking with the old way of doing water infrastructure:

Now. Unlike a massive underground tunnel system that would tear up neighborhoods for years, our green infrastructure is already providing water quality benefits. Green City, Clean Waters improvements allow Philadelphia to enjoy better water quality and environmental and social benefits right now. 

Better. In place since 2011, Green City, Clean Waters is creating environmental, social, and economic benefits that our neighborhoods would otherwise miss out on. Green infrastructure projects are increasing property values, beautifying neighborhoods, fighting extreme summer heat, creating natural habitats, enhancing public space and schools and even making neighborhoods safer.

Fairer. While other cities scramble for funds and end up saddling ratepayers with the burden of financing massive and outdated gray infrastructure projects, our 25-year Green City, Clean Waters plan is a cost-saving program that lets Philadelphia Water minimize rate increases and keep water affordable for all.   

Jobs. Green City, Clean Waters is fueling a green jobs economy in Philadelphia, creating high-value new jobs for residents and attracting smart workers and firms to our city. An ambitious and forward-thinking green infrastructure plan needs an ambitious and forward-thinking workforce to succeed, and we’re making that happen here right now.

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