11 For 2011: PWD vs. Hurricane Irene

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PWD's Watersheds blog closes out the year with a list of 11 green missions accomplished in 2011, from innovative stormwater management projects and stream restorations to groundbreaking policy agreements and energy-generating solar arrays.

The swollen Schuylkill River at the Fairmount Dam

Hurricane Irene blew through Philadelphia on August 28, causing flooding in low-lying areas. The Philadelphia Water Department worked to minimize the damage as much as possible, and here are some statistics on our performance:

  • PWD wastewater treatment plants received almost 1 billion gallons of stormwater, more than twice their normal volume, and maintained performance.
  • PWD cleared 400 inlets in proactive preparation for Irene, and that number—along with the help of citizens—is, according to Mayor Nutter, "a great part of why we didn't have as much flooding as we could have possibly had." 
  • More than 55 PWD employees worked over the weekend to answer calls and pump out flooded basements. 
  • The Schuylkill and Delaware rivers crested at 13.5 ft. and 9.77 ft., respectively, in Philadelphia.

Saturday: Rain Barrels, Spokesdog and Hot Cocoa at Tacony Creek Environmental Fair

Join the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership on Saturday, Dec. 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for a free environmental fair along the Tacony Creek (meet at 4941 Roosevelt Blvd at the Thomas Scattergood Foundation on the Friends Hospital property). Sign up for a free rain barrel or downspout planter, enjoy free hot cocoa, make an eco-card, join a guided bird walk and meet PWD spokesdog Teddie and get a free gift! Speaking of spokesdogs, the 2012 Philly Water's Best Friend competition is coming to Northern Liberties and Queen Village—registration is now open.

Here's PWD's East Falls spokesdog Teddie and his owner in action, spreading the word about picking up pet waste:

Does Your Dog Have Spokesdog Star Potential?

Registration opens today for the 2012 Philly Water's Best Friend Spokesdog Competition. The Philadelphia Water Department is looking for two eco-friendly dogs—one in Northern Liberties and one in Queen Village—to help keep Philly's waterways clean by educating the public about proper disposal of pet waste. "Doo" the right thing: Always pick up after your pet and never put pet waste in a storm drain.

To read about the prizes, perks and contest guidelines, check out the Spokesdog page, where you can find out more about the competition and enter your dog. Registration is open until Feb. 15, and the finalists will compete in a judging and awards ceremony in their respective neighborhoods.

Tonight: Engineers Without Borders Project Updates

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Photo: Engineers Without Borders

Join the professional and student members of Engineers Without Borders at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center tonight, Dec. 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. as they present their international project work. Engineers Without Borders, a nonprofit humanitarian organization devoted to sustainable engineering projects, is currently working on water and sanitation improvements in Rwanda, El Salvador and the Philippines (pictured above).

Making News: Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed

Julie Slavet, executive director of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, recently appeared on Comcast's Newsmakers program to talk about the organization's efforts to restore and preserve the health of Tookany/Tacony/Frankford creek. (If you're confused as to why this creek has three names, click here.) Slavet discusses the stream and trail restorations happening in Tacony Creek Park, the site of a Love Your Watershed day on Dec. 17. Join your neighbors at the park from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., sign up for a free rain barrel and meet Molson the PWD spokesdog!

8,000 Feet of Stream Restoration

Cobbs Creek stream restoration near Marshall Road, completed in 2004

Join us on Thursday, November 17 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center to learn about the planned stream restoration for Cobbs Creek, which will encompass approximately 8,000 linear feet of stream length. Gerald Bright, an environmental program scientist with PWD, will provide an overview of the restoration and its aim to mitigate combined sewer overflows and improve water quality using natural stream channel design techniques. The project will enhance Cobbs Creek Park by installing stormwater management projects, improving trails and gateways, and creating a more scenic waterway.

Learn more about PWD's efforts to improve water quality through Waterways Restoration.

You're Invited: Green Homes Movie Premiere

On a cold Saturday last November, more than 100 volunteers joined PWD and Rebuilding Together Philadelphia in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood of Philadelphia to install rain barrels, rain gardens and downspout planters (such as the one pictured above) in residential homes. These green tools not only prevent stormwater pollution from running into the rivers and streams that supply our drinking water, they also beautify the neighborhood.

Now, a year later, participants and neighbors will get together for a status update on how their green projects are performing, and GreenTreks will premiere Green Homes videos featuring Cobbs Creek residents and their projects. Join us Wednesday, November 16 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center for this free event. Refreshments will be served! RSVP to

Tweets from TEDxPhilly

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PWD's Glen Abrams spoke at the TEDxPhilly conference on Tuesday, highlighting the benefits of green infrastructure and the Green City, Clean Waters plan. Below are a couple tweets from the event; more on TEDxPhilly's twitter page.

TEDxPhilly: The City

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TEDxPhilly is a local, one-day extension of the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference, taking place on Tuesday, November 8 at the Temple Performing Arts Center. This year's topic is The City, and speakers and exhibitors will discuss the challenges, ideas and innovations that shape Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Water Department's own Glen Abrams, manager of Policy and Strategic Initiative, is speaking during the 4:30 Reveal session tomorrow, discussing how the Green City, Clean Waters plan can improve the city.

Abrams will explain how the 25-year plan smartly invests in sustainable water infrastructure to save money, green the city and protect our natural environment.

Saturday: When You Love Your Park, You Love Your Watershed

Photo: Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership

On Saturday, November 5, volunteers all around Philadelphia will gather to clean and green their local parks (find your nearest park here). When you participate in this weekend's Love Your Park day, you're also helping out your watershed by clearing debris and litter that might otherwise end up in a storm drain. And at Vernon Park in Germantown, where the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership recently led an effort to install a rain garden (volunteers preparing the ground are pictured above), the clean-up effort will be joined by Mayor Michael Nutter, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis and PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug. Vernon Park is at 5818 Germantown Ave., and the event will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Learn more about rain gardens here or download the Vernon Park rain garden brochure.

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