The Green Team: EPA and Philadelphia Sign Innovative Stormwater Agreement

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Call it a collaboration of infiltration—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Philadelphia agreed yesterday to become partners in a 25-year plan to use green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff. In a signing ceremony at the Fairmount Water Works, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson joined Mayor Nutter, PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug and other officials to assure the EPA's support for Green City, Clean Waters. The long-term plan aims to restore water quality in our local rivers and streams by absorbing rain water into the ground; green infrastructure such as tree trenches, green roofs and rain gardens mimic natural processes that intercept and infiltrate rain water before it enters the sewer. 

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Sandy Bauers expanded on the issue and the economic advantages of green infrastructure in today's front-page article:

"Philadelphia's problem is that about 60 percent of the city's sewers are a combined system that carries both sewage and storm water. During heavy rainfall, the system overflows, and untreated water containing raw sewage, litter, road pollution, and other substances spurts from more than 150 overflow pipes into streams and rivers. The overflows total about 14 billion gallons a year. Many other large cities have decided to build massive—and hugely expensive—underground tunnels to solve the problem. Washington proposed three of them, the largest eight miles long and 23 feet in diameter. Philadelphia had considered it, but then realized it might be looking at the wrong end of the pipe. Instead of managing what came out of the sewer system, perhaps it could manage the water before it enters the system."

More photos from the signing ceremony after the jump.

East Falls: You've Got Stormwater Bumpouts

Pop Quiz! A Stormwater Bumpout is: 

a)  The name of a wizard in the Harry Potter books
b)  An obscure '70s prog-rock band
c)  A vegetated curb extension that manages runoff by infiltrating water into the soil, thereby helping to prevent combined sewer overflows into our rivers and streams

Obviously, it's c). You can see a stormwater bumpout up close and personal tomorrow, April 5 at 4:30 at Queen Lane and Foxt Street in East Falls. Philadelphia's first bumpouts were installed at Queen Lane (pictured above) as part of the Green City, Clean Waters plan to manage stormwater through green infrastructure. PWD's Soak It Up! crew will be on hand with free refreshments, art activities, yarn graffiti, flower bulb plantings and more. 

Thursday: Urban Watersheds Panel

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You're invited: On Thursday, April 5 from 2:00-4:00 p.m., the University of Pennsylvania will be hosting a panel discussion on Urban Watersheds in the Hall of Flags, Houston Hall. The discussion will focus on community involvement and watershed partnerships. Speakers include Jon Capacasa (EPA), F.N. Scatena (UPenn Dept. of Earth & Environmental Science), Phillip Rodbell (USDA Forest Service) and PWD's own Valessa Souter-Kline.

We are sure this discussion will be interesting, but let's be honest with ourselves: We really just want to hang out in a place called the Hall of Flags for a little while.

Email for more details.

North Philly Celebrates Green Infrastructure

Mayor Nutter swung by last week's Soak It Up! event in North Philly to commemorate the installation of stormwater tree trenches near 7th and Cumberland streets. The tree trenches are just one tool used to manage rain water and prevent sewer overflows into our rivers and streams. Check out our updated Green City, Clean Waters page for the complete story of how Philadelphia is using natural, green processes to solve the problem of combined sewer overflows.

Students from the nearby John F. Hartranft elementary school helped decorate the tree trenches with flower plantings.

There weren't just snacks. There were snacks and smoothies. 

East Falls—you're next. Join us on Thursday, April 5 at 4:30 at Queen Lane and Fox Street to dedicate the city's first stormwater bumpouts.

North Philly: Your Turn To Soak It Up

Don't forget to come out today at 4:30 at 7th and Cumberland streets in eastern North Philadelphia to celebrate the Philadelphia Water Department's green infrastructure project. The stormwater tree trench on Cumberland St. absorbs runoff during storms and helps prevent sewer overflows into our rivers and streams. PWD's Soak It Up crew will be there with free refreshments, art activities, flower plantings and plenty of information about our green infrastructure projects.

You're Invited: Iodine-131 Panel Discussion

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Iodine-131 is a radioactive form of iodine widely used in the medical field for the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease. Trace amounts are present in waterways around the world as well as in our rivers; however, the drinking water levels pose no risk to public health, and here in Philadelphia the average levels are well below EPA limits.

Although our drinking water is safe and is monitored 24/7, it's PWD's responsibility to look for things that can challenge our water quality. Join us tomorrow, March 28, at 5:30 p.m. at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center for a panel discussion of iodine-131. Our partners in the EPA the PA Department of Environmental Protection and the City's Department of Health will be on hand to share information about joint efforts to track down sources of iodine-131 in our region's watersheds.

East Germantown Soaked It Up

Last week, Soak It Up, Philly! hit East Germantown to celebrate the six stormwater tree trenches on Belfield Avenue. The Philadelphia Water Department's third Soak It Up event drew a crowd—the community came out to see how PWD's green infrastructure absorbs rain water and works toward preventing sewer overflows in our rivers and streams. Neighbors enjoyed refreshments, art activities, flower plantings and more yarn art around the trees.

The next Soak It Up event is this Thursday, March 29 at 7th and Cumberland streets in North Philadelphia.

Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club President Rev. Chester Williams and PWD Comissioner Howard Neukrug dedicate the stormwater tree trenches.

Plantings around the street trees help beautify the neighborhood.

It's Not Thursday. It's World Water Day.

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Today is World Water Day! Now what are we going to do? Here are a few ideas: Start here, and read about this year's theme: The world is thirsty because we are hungry. Water drives the food chain and is the key to our food security—read these FAQs. Play this drag-and-drop food game to see how much water it takes to produce the food on your plate. Watch these animated videos on water reuse and the water cycle. Spread the word by liking World Water Day's Facebook page.

See South Philly Soak It Up

On March 8, our second Soak It Up! event took place at 16th and Jackson streets in South Philly. Neighbors joined city officials and PWD employees to celebrate the stormwater tree trenches that absorb runoff and make 16th Street a green street. Above, children from the neighborhood plant flowers around the trees.

PWD commissioner Howard Neukrug, Newbold Civic Association's Naomi Geschwind and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson after the ribbon-cutting.

These kids are both expert gardeners and professional chalk artists.

Another PWD-sponsored yarn bombing by ishknits

Most Sustainable In Show: PWD Flower Show Display Wins Sustainability Award

The 2012 International Flower Show, which wrapped up last week, aimed to take visitors on a trip to Hawaii. The Philadelphia Water Department's display, however, kept it right here in Philly, demonstrating how green roofs, rain gardens and other green infrastructure can beautify our city while managing stormwater runoff that pollutes our rivers and streams. Scale models of some of Philly's most famous buildings show how green the city could be, earning the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Sustainability Award for the exhibit demonstrating the best use of sustainable gardening practices to the public.

Visit PWD's Facebook page to see more photos.


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