State of the City: Greenworks Turns Two

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How's that "greenest city in America" thing coming along? Find out at the Urban Sustainability Forum on Thursday, June 16 at the Academy of Natural Sciences. The focus of the program is to update the public on the progress made toward achieving the goals outlined in Greenworks Philadelphia, the mayor's ambitious plan issued in 2009 to realize various sustainability targets. Among the 15 initiatives outlined in Greenworks are actions to lower energy consumption, retrofit houses for energy efficiency, improve air quality, divert solid waste from landfills, increase tree coverage, add green jobs and—because this is the Office of Watersheds blog, after all—better stormwater management. As Greenworks releases its second annual progress report, participants at the event will have the chance to rotate among 15 tables representing the sustainability target areas and learn what Philadelphia is doing to mobilize neighborhoods, partners and citizens to work together. Registration is free, and information can be found here.

Green Roof Bus Shelter Debuts Today

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You bring a brown bag and we'll provide the green roof. Stop by 15th and Market on your lunch break today to see the debut of Philly's first green roof bus shelter (pictured above, under construction). Join Mayor Michael Nutter, PWD commissioner Howard Neukrug, Deputy Mayor of Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler and Director of Sustainability Katherine Gajewski at the unveiling ceremony from 12:30 - 1:30.

Iodine-131: A Panel Discussion

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Iodine-131 has been in the news lately, and PWD has been busy responding to media inquiries. Now is your chance to ask your own questions and voice concerns: Join us at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center on Wednesday, June 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for a panel discussion about Iodine-131. We want to help Philadelphia residents understand what Iodine-131 is and how it affects them; representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have been invited to participate as well.

Event flyer (PDF)

Read our updated Iodine-131 Q&A (PDF)

Background information on Iodine from the EPA website

Gimme Shelter: PWD To Unveil Green Roof Bus Stop June 15

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Join Mayor Michael Nutter and the Philadelphia Water Department for the unveiling of Philly's first green roof bus shelter on Wednesday, June 15 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the northwest corner of 15th and Market streets. The event will serve as the official launch of PWD's Green City, Clean Waters plan; it will also mark the release of the 2011 Greenworks Progress Report and the recognition of PWD commissioner Howard Neukrug as the recipient of the Special Chapter Award from the Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Stop by to check out the green roof and get tips on what you can do to manage stormwater in your own home and keep our rivers and streams clean.

Art In The Open

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Plastic Fantastic by Diedra Krieger

The French call it en plein air—painting outdoors. But Monet and Renoir would scarcely recognize Philly's version of it. The second annual Art In The Open takes place June 9-12 along the banks of the Schuylkill (roughly from Fairmount Water Works to Bartram's Garden) and offers much more than easels and landscapes. The highly interactive Art In The Open festival includes video installations, kayak tours, dance performances, costume-making workshops, and sculptures such as the one pictured above, made from more than 6,000 post-consumer water bottles and due to be installed on the lawn near the Fairmount Water Works. Check out the events page for a full listing and calendar.

That's Why They Call It Brewerytown

Bergdorff Brewery, N. 29th and Parrish St.

Sold-out event tonight at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center: The Breweries of Brewerytown and Vicinity, a presentation by historian Rich Wagner. More details here. Philadelphia's brewing history is yet another example of the crucial role that our rivers and streams play in the economy, growth and well-being of the city.

"Brewers were attracted to the area ponded by the dam at the Fairmount Water Works for the ice they could harvest from the river. Then, in vaults carved along its banks, brewers would pack wooden hogsheads of lager beer with ice for six to eight months for the beer to 'ripen.' Brewerytown evolved into a neighborhood that accounted for about half the city’s beer production and included some of the largest brewers in the nation, who shipped their beer throughout the world.

Poised above the banks of the Schuylkill at the edge of Fairmount Park, the area between 30th and 33rd Streets from Girard Ave. to Oxford St. was home to 11 breweries, many with malt houses, a keg manufacturer and a bottling equipment manufacturer. It was a neighborhood whose atmosphere was once described as being like 'vaporized bread.'" has an excellent blog post on the topic; Wagner's brief history blames Prohibition for the eventual exodus of breweries from Brewerytown. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has an 1862 watercolor of Lipp's Brewery on the banks of the Schuylkill near Lemon Hill Mansion.

Soak It In: Photos From Philly's First Porous Street

Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilman Frank DiCicco, Deputy Mayor of Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler, and PWD commissioner Howard Neukrug recently unveiled Philadelphia’s first porous green street on the 800 block of Percy Street in South Philly. The porous asphalt replaces traditional impervious asphalt and reduces the amount of stormwater that enters our sewers. Green infrastructure tools such as porous asphalt are part of PWD's Green City, Clean Waters plan to invest approximately $2 billion over the next 25 years to significantly reduce Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs)—a combination of sewage and stormwater that overflows into our rivers and streams when it rains.

The Percy Street unveiling ended with a water-balloon toss and Mayor Nutter demonstrating how the street functions by pouring a gallon of water onto the asphalt. It worked! More photos after the jump.

Green City, Clean Waters Gets the Green Light

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l to r: Adam Bram (PA DEP), Jenifer Fields (PA DEP), Howard Neukrug (PWD), David Katz, Gerald Leatherman (photo: GreenTreks)

"High fives all around."

That's just one of the enthusiastic reactions (from Brady Russell, eastern Pennsylvania director of Clean Water Action, published in today's Philadelphia Inquirer front-page article) to yesterday's historic signing of a consent agreement between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Philadelphia Water Department to officially approve the Green City, Clean Waters plan. Officials from PWD and PA DEP met in Norristown to raise a tap-water toast and sign the agreement, which validates a 25-year, $2 billion plan to manage Philadelphia's stormwater largely through green infrastructure.

“We are thrilled and grateful that the DEP has recognized the incredible environmental and public value of this plan and has worked with the City to embrace its vision,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. “As a sustainable approach to stormwater issues, Green City, Clean Waters upholds the tenets of GreenWorks Philadelphia and makes significant progress towards Philadelphia becoming the greenest city in the country.”

PWD commissioner Howard Neukrug and PA DEP representatives sign the consent agreement.

“Through the Green City, Clean Waters plan, we seek to achieve a host of
tangible environmental, social and economic benefits for Philadelphians
while improving the health of the City’s creeks, rivers and urban
landscape,” added Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug. “That means not
only cleaner water for our citizens, but cleaner air, a higher quality
of life and meaningful jobs for future generations.”

Review the full Green City, Clean Waters plan here.

Meet Our New Best Friends

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When we put out a call to find Philly Water's Best Friend, more than 85 dogs answered and thousands (yes, thousands!) of votes were cast online. On May 7, two canine pageants took place—one in East Falls and one in Manayunk—to test the special talents of these dogs and evaluate everything from their eco-friendly lifestyles to their dreams for Philadelphia. In exchange for the title of Philly Water’s Best Friend, these ambassadogs will attend community events, handing out brochures and biodegradable bag dispensers to raise awareness of pollution caused by pet waste. The purpose of the Philly Water’s Best Friend Competition is to reduce water pollution by teaching pet owners the importance of picking up dog waste.

The spokesdog pageant featured special guests and judges, including Mayor Michael Nutter, PWD commissioner Howard Neukrug and State Representative Pamela A. DeLissio. And the winners are: Molson, a pit bull/German shepherd/Husky mix from East Falls; and Teddie (pictured above with owner Lindsey McClennen and Mayor Nutter), the golden doodle from Manayunk/Roxborough. Congratulations to our new ambassadogs!

Check out our spokesdog page for more info and a slideshow of the contestants.

The Big Green Block

Philadelphia Water continues to work with a coalition of local nonprofits and community groups on the Big Green Block, a multi-component sustainability project at and around Shissler Recreation Center and the Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Green stormwater projects at the site include stormwater tree trenches and two rain gardens that are designed to manage runoff from approximately 1.2 acres.

PWD's partners in the project include the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, New Kensington Community Development Corporation, Sustainable 19125, Mural Arts Program and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. Check in with Sustainable 19125's blog to keep up to date on local events. 

Locate this project on our Big Green Map.

Here are a few photos: 

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