Cleaner Streets = Cleaner Rivers and Creeks

With more than 900 projects scattered across the city, this Saturday’s Philly Spring Cleanup was the largest ever—and that’s a pretty big deal considering this volunteer-driven event has already been praised as “America’s biggest single-day urban cleanup” for years now.

First held in 2007, Philly Spring Cleanup has grown into a movement that brings neighbors together by harnessing a passion for litter-free communities. From a watershed protection perspective, we love seeing that passion transformed into action because so much of the litter and trash collected from streets, parks and empty lots on Saturday would eventually wash into Philly’s rivers and creeks.

While the 2016 results haven’t been tallied yet, last year’s cleanup (featuring 718 projects) netted 836,100 pounds of trash, 104,260 pounds of tires and 107,580 pounds of recyclables—all stuff that could very well have ended up in our water.

Throughout the year, Philadelphia Water collects trash from our 75,000+ storm drain inlets and uses special skimming boats to gather “floatable” litter like plastic bottles and Styrofoam from the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, but events like Philly Spring Cleanup play a crucial role in keeping trash out of stormwater sewers and waterways.

We are also expanding our partnerships to support more cleanups, especially those like the Schuylkill Action Network’s Schuylkill Scrub events and tonight's Delaware River cleanup with United By Blue, which have a watershed focus.
(RSVP for the UBB/Philadelphia Water cleanup + happy hour here!)

Beyond picking up trash, we also encourage people not to litter by reminding them that our streets and neighborhoods are directly connected to our rivers and creeks. We want people to know that, if you throw trash on the sidewalk or dump oil in the street, you’re hurting the wildlife that lives in your local watershed.

During this year’s Philly Spring Cleanup, a number of groups and block captains helped to spread the word about preventing storm drain pollution by taking part in our new marking program. Storm drains were marked in West Passyunk, Walnut Hill, East Falls, Graduate Hospital, Greys Ferry, Bella Vista, the Sports Complex Special Services District and beyond using new kits that highlight both the local watershed (we have seven in Philly) and an aquatic critter that lives there.

We want to thank the thousands of volunteers who took part in Philly Spring Cleanup 2016, and especially the groups and block captains who marked their local storm drains. Together, we can get the litter out of our neighborhoods and parks while educating residents about the intimate connection between our streets and our watersheds.

Want see what your watershed critter is and mark drains in your neighborhood? Sign up for a free kit here. You can also learn about dozens of upcoming volunteer cleanups focused on watersheds by visiting our events calendar.  Additional Schuylkill Scrub events held throughout the region are listed here.