Flood Risk Management Task Force: Manayunk Public Meeting

A meeting on flooding will be held on May 11 at 6 p.m. at the Venice Island rec center, 7 Lock Street. Credit: Brian Rademaekers

Members of the Manayunk community and Philadelphia residents are invited to join City officials for a special meeting highlighting ongoing efforts to protect neighborhoods from the impacts of flooding and storms.

The talk is being hosted by the City of Philadelphia’s Flood Risk Management Task Force, a group featuring the Philadelphia Water Department and a wide range of City agencies and departments involved in flooding-related issues.

Scheduled for Thursday, May 11th at the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, the public meeting will kick off at 6 p.m. and address questions such as:

Why and when does Manayunk flood?

What can residents and businesses do to better prepare themselves?

What is the Task Force doing about flooding?

UPDATE: Final Public Input Hearing Announced for Proposed Rate Change

Philadelphia Water is requesting a rate increase that would go into effect July, 2016. Click the image for more info.


A final Public Input Hearing for the proposed 2016-17 rate change will take place Thursday, April 7 at 8:30 a.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall on the 4th Floor. You are encouraged to attend and submit testimony. If you are unable to attend, you can submit written comments until April 18.

For more information, visit the Water Rate Board website here.

The Great Melt Is Here ... Are Your Storm Drains Clear?

Now that snow is melting, it's very important to make sure storm drains are clear. We have crews on the job, but we could use a hand too. Credit: Philadelphia Water
Now that snow is melting, it's very important to make sure storm drains are clear. We have crews on the job, but we could use a hand too. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Winter Storm Jonas surely lived up to—and even exceeded—all the Snowpocalypse/Snowzilla hype.

That meant plenty of sledding and snowman building on Saturday and Sunday when it was cold. But with nearly two feet of snow now starting to melt, our winter wonderland is dissolving into a soupy mess that we want to make sure enters the inlets so it does not create roadway flooding or icing conditions as the frigid temperatures return each night.

Philly Has Much to Gain—and Lose—from Paris Climate Talks

Flooding from Hurricane Irene in 2011 raised the Schuylkill River to levels not seen in 140 years. Climate change is projected to bring more extreme storms to the region. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Flooding from Hurricane Irene in 2011 raised the Schuylkill River to levels not seen in 140 years. Climate change is projected to bring more extreme storms to the region. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Chances are, you’ve already heard a little bit about the Paris climate change talks—formally, the “21st Conference of the Parties” or COP21—that kicked off yesterday with world leaders calling for action.

While those talks might seem a world away, there are more than a few good reasons for Philadelphians to pay attention.

We’re Preparing for Heavy Rains – You Should Too

Flooding seen along Forbidden Drive in Fairmount Park during Hurricane Irene in 2011. In that storm, the Schuylkill River hit a high water mark not seen since 1869. Photo Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Flooding seen along Forbidden Drive in Fairmount Park during Hurricane Irene in 2011. In that storm, the Schuylkill River hit a high water mark not seen since 1869. Photo Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Whether Joaquin is a hurricane, tropical storm, or something else by the time that system reaches us, chances are we’ll see some intense rain. Philadelphia Water has been preparing for the upcoming heavy rain events by clearing inlets in low lying areas and inspecting other inlets to make sure they are clean.

We’re also working to make sure any intersections we know may typically flood will be closely monitored in case they need to be closed off due to high water levels. Our staff will monitor river levels for any tidal flooding that may occur, and have crews working to maintain our systems during these intense rain events.

Here are several tips to help ensure our customers (that’s you) are prepared for the storm too:

• Make sure if you live in a flood-prone area that you remove all valuables and electronic equipment from your basement floors. If you have had basement flooding in the past, you’ll want to make sure that items are placed on a shelf at least higher than the last high water mark, or bring it to a higher floor.

• Do not enter your basement if there is standing water, as the risk of electrocution exists. You should always wait until the water subsides.

• Do your best to seal any floor drains, as the water from the sewer would typically back up through the lowest point in your home.

• If you have sewer backups into your basement, you’d want to make sure you sanitize your basement properly. One quarter cup of bleach per gallon of water is recommended to clean all surfaces that any water touches. Make sure you properly dry the basement as well to help reduce the risk of mold buildups.

• You should always have bottled water in your home as well as flashlights and batteries in case of a loss of power.

Philadelphia Water always asks our customers to be our eyes on the ground, and you can assist us in spotting any trouble areas we may not be aware of. Should you see a flooded intersection, or if you're receiving water in the basement from plumbing fixtures, call us at 215-685-6300. This information is vital to keep records of flood locations and how these storms impact our systems. We would also be able to monitor those inlets should they be part of the reason for any street flooding, not necessarily sewer backups.

If you’re a customer and you experience any basement flooding through your fixtures, you may be eligible for our Basement Backup Protection Program. Call our hotline to get more information on this free program at 215-685-6300.

And remember, above all, be safe and take flood and weather warnings seriously!

Improvements to Address Northern Liberties Flooding

Northern Liberties flooding that occured after a July 9 downpour. Credit: Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.
Northern Liberties flooding that occurred after a July 9 downpour. Credit: Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.

After yet another heavy rainstorm last week, a section of Northern Liberties experienced localized flooding as result of an overwhelmed stormwater system.

This area contains the historic Cohocksink Creek and is the focus of a long-term infrastructure improvement project. Traditional sewer expansion and green stormwater tools will improve the capacity of the local system while reducing the amount of water entering sewers.

Philadelphia Water is aware of last week's flooding and on-going issues, and we're working with the community to address immediate concerns as we implement a plan to improve conditions in the long haul.
You can see a summary of plans to address flooding in the vicinity of Wildey and N. American streets here and here.

Impacted residents are also encouraged to attend a community meeting on the Northern Liberties Storm Flood Relief Program. Philadelphia Water representatives will discuss flood reduction efforts at the South Kensington Neighborhood Association,1301 N. 2nd St., on Tuesday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Stress on the Sewers: Is June Philly's New Monsoon?

The July 9 storm dumped nearly an inch of rain in just under 10 minutes—the heaviest of the month so far—and came at a time when the Delaware River was at its highest tide level.

It’s been a rather wet summer so far, and that means additional stress for stormwater infrastructure. After a historically dry May, June made up for it with a vengeance. Only two years have seen a wetter June in the city, according to records dating to 1872.

The wettest June ever was in 2013, followed by 1938 and 2015 with 8.88 inches. The National Weather Service lists June’s rain average as 3.43 inches.

It’s all part of a trend that has seen six of the rainiest Junes EVER occur in the city in just the last dozen years:

June 2013: 10.36 (1st)

June 2015: 8.88 (3rd)

June 2003: 8.08 (4th)

June 2006: 7.95 (6th)

Green Tools: Six Ways They Can Make a Climate Changed-Future a Little Less Scary

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a cool new infographic out showing how the green stormwater infrastructure we use in Green City, Clean Waters helps to reduce the impact of climate change by making Philadelphia a more resilient city.

The EPA graphic focuses on urban areas and paints a grim picture of the future awaiting cities as the effects of climate change intensify in the coming decades. Considering the already staggering cost of flooding events stemming from super-storms like Hurricane Sandy, the projection of a 30 percent increase in annual flood costs is especially troubling. 

But there's good news, too: we already have the some of the tools we need to help fight the negative impacts highlighted. And, thanks to Green City, Clean Waters—a plan that the EPA approved back in 2011—Philadelphia is ahead of the curve when it comes to using green as a tool for making our neighborhoods safer, more livable places. 

We like to point out how our green approach makes our city a better place right now, but it's also about looking out for future generations. That's why Philadelphia Water is taking climate change seriously and designed Green City, Clean Waters to be flexible and adaptive in the face of environmental challenges that range from more intense storms to longer and more intense droughts.  

Check out the EPA infographic here:

GSI for Climate Resiliency: An EPA Infographic
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

When you look at numbers like those from the Burnsville study—a 93 percent reduction in damaging stormwater runoff—it's easy to see how having more rain gardens and other green tools will be a real asset in a future where we see more and more instense rain events. It's just part of larger long-term plans Philadelphia Water and the city have for addressing climate change, but Green City, Clean Waters will play a role in addressing those challenges over the next few decades. 

Want to keep up on Green City, Clean Waters news and events and learn more about sustainability initiatives at Philadelphia Water? Click here and sign up for our monthly newsletter now! 

Is it too soon to talk about storm flood relief?

Well this is certainly a topic that is fresh in everyone’s minds as recent extreme rains have left basements flooded, cars wrecked, roads closed, and our Water Works temporarily out of commission. These events are becoming more frequent as what used to be known as “100-year storms” occur once or twice each decade now. In this region, PWD plays an important role in planning for consequences of global climate change and mitigating the effects of these weather events.

Our primary method of handling this has been to reduce the amount of stormwater run-off that rushes directly into our streams and rivers by investing $40 to $50 million each year to create more acreage to soak that rain into the ground water. We’re also investing $30 million in infrastructure improvements every year to enhance our ability to collect and divert stormwater. Over the next several years we are studying potentially $1 billion in system improvements through our Green City, Clean Waters program. For homeowners, PWD has provided nearly $1.7 million since 2005 to install basement back-up protection devices at 455 homes in the city.

PWD and our partner city agencies are also coordinating response and recovery with other city, state, and federal agencies to provide advanced warning forecasts in advance of large storms. We’re creating tidal and neighborhood flooding projections and vulnerability analyses, revising FEMA flood map, projecting climate change impacts, installing signage in vulnerable areas, reviewing zoning and building codes, and meeting with communities to help guide them through these changes.

PWD has always been forward looking and has anticipated the challenges and opportunities that Philadelphia has faced over the decades. Storm flood relief is a challenge that is only going to get more severe over the next several decades. We continue to focus on the issue as we have for the past several years.

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