Schuylkill River Spree Under Way, Includes All-New SRT Ale!

View of the Schuylkill Banks section of the Schuylkill Trail from the South Street Bridge.
The Schuylkill River Trail, photo courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Commission.

One of the greatest uses humankind has devised for water is brewing that wonderful elixir known as beer (and ale, pilsner, lager, stout, porter or whatever whets your whistle on a Friday!). And one of PWD’s most important missions is safeguarding our beer water supply by acting in collaboration with other communities and groups as stewards of our wonderful Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.

To call attention to the importance of our Schuylkill River and its value to the whole region, Sly Fox Brewery, with locations in Pottstown and Phoenixville, in collaboration with the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, will release SRT Ale on Earth Day (April 22). SRT Ale celebrates the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT), and a portion of the proceeds of the hoppy, gold-hued brew's sales will benefit the trail. The 5-day buildup to the official release begins TODAY as they kick off the SRT Spree. Sly Fox describes the journey from Pottstown to Schuylkill Banks in Philly well on their website

Reminiscent of Lewis & Clark, the SRT Spree includes a two-man-team representing Sly Fox Brewing Company. This is not an organized group excursion although fans of Sly Fox beer and the Schuylkill River Trail are welcome to travel along any segment of the journey or the entire trip.

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area provides even more details about this awesome journey:

The team will travel by kayaks, road bicycles, trail bikes, horseback, recumbent trikes and on foot to advance the giant can to the final destination. Each day the Spree will stop along the trail for an organized trail cleanup and recognition of a local beer purveyor that will introduce SRT Ale to the public.

You can volunteer to participate in the SRT Spree and help out with one of several trail cleanups planned for today through Wednesday. They are still very much in need of volunteers for tomorrow morning, in Kernsville from 8-10 a.m. if you can make the trek out to a community upstream!

Use this link to sign up for one of the clean-ups.

And get this… Trail Cleanup volunteers aged 21 and older will be given one free voucher to taste the new beer! SRT Ale tappings will be held each evening at licensed establishments located near the cleanup sites. Cheers! 

Good Economy Challenge to Candidates Features Green City, Clean Waters


The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) has stepped into the fray of this year’s city elections to offer up the “Good Economy Challenge” to all of the candidates for mayor and City Council. Highlighting the importance of a sustainable economy, they focus on five policy priorities: small business, procure local, solar homes, social enterprise and... Green City, Clean Waters! 

In a recent newsletter SBN wrote “Green City, Clean Waters is bringing many economic, environmental, and social benefits to the city, and is positioning Philadelphia as a national leader in urban stormwater management. Our next Mayor/Council Members should drive Green City, Clean Waters forward in a unified way, so that the program can continue to positively influence Philadelphia’s competitiveness, local and regional economy, environment, and quality of life.” (We're blushing over here!) And in their policy paper, SBN outlines three specific recommendations asking candidates to pledge their commitment to Green City, Clean Waters, to improve coordination across city departments to better support the program and to continue making Philadelphia a green infrastructure industry and innovation hub for the nation. You can check all of their recommendations here

Perhaps most importantly, SBN is hosting the Good Economy Candidates Forum, giving you a chance to hear directly from mayoral candidates on Saturday, April 25, 6:30-9pm. The forum takes place at Temple’s Fox School of Business, Alter Hall Auditorium, 1801 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, PA. You can register for the forum using this link

And they didn’t just stop at issuing the challenge and organizing a forum! To keep up the social pressure, SBN has provided all kinds of easy-to-use tools for people to spread the message of this challenge. They’ve provided suggested Twitter and Facebook language (we’re partial to this one) so YOU can be part of the effort to put these policies in front of the mayoral and council candidates—scroll to the bottom of this page here for more examples. 

We appreciate that SBN has been such a strong advocate for Green City, Clean Waters and included it in this challenge. If you agree that Green City, Clean Waters, and sustainable, local business is an important topic for our new leaders, then make sure you attend the Forum, spread the word and get involved!

PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug Receives 2015 Arbor Day Award!

Green City, Clean Water Trees and Howard Neukrug
Green City, Clean Waters stormwater trees (left) and PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug (right)

We are delighted to announce that PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug is the recipient of a 2015 Arbor Day Award from the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of his outstanding contribution to tree planting, conservation and stewardship! 

Since 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has recognized the inspiring work of leading environmental stewards and tree planters with their annual Arbor Day Awards. This year Commissioner Neukrug is one of 13 individuals, organizations and companies being recognized. He is the recipient of the Excellence in Urban Forestry Leadership Award for his role in helping to create, oversee and implement Green City, Clean Waters

Green City, Clean Waters uses trees and other plants in its green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) systems to help soak up and capture rainwater where it falls. By capturing the water where it falls, the volume of runoff is reduced in Philadelphia’s combined sewer system, which improves the health of the surrounding creeks and rivers. In the last fiscal year, 1,252 trees were planted through the Green City, Clean Waters program!

Green City, Clean Waters is the single largest green stormwater infrastructure program in the nation…. But the realization of the program – and its daily implementation – is achieved through the passion and dedication of Philadelphia Water's own Office of Watersheds, and the strong partnership and leadership provided by our sister agencies – Philadelphia's Parks & Recreation and Office of Sustainability. It is a pleasure and honor to have such steadfast support
--Howard Neukrug

The Green Streets component of Green City, Clean Waters is helping transform Philadelphia into a greener city with tree-lined streets. Trees planted through Green City, Clean Waters not only manage stormwater water but enhance the air quality, improve property values and beautify neighborhoods. Green City, Clean Waters also boosts the sustainability and greening goals of Philadelphia’s Greenworks Plan, which aims to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the nation. 

A ceremony for Arbor Day award recipients will be held at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday, April 25 and we can’t wait to attend! 

Earth Day Ribbon Cutting at Nebinger School

Join Mayor Michael Nutter, US EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, Councilman Mark Squilla, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent, Dr. William R. Hite Jr., Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Executive Director Jennifer Adkins, Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug and Public Officials as we celebrate a national model for stormwater management and educational programming at George W. Nebinger School.

US EPA, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, PWD and other public and community partners have teamed up with the School District of Philadelphia on a project where Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) is used as a tool in the classroom, field, and laboratory, serving as a demonstration opportunity for students and the community.

The GSI systems featured at Nebinger include a rain garden, bioswale, a porous play surface, porous pavers, a below-ground basin and a landscaped border. These green tools beautify the space while helping to improve water quality and the health of our rivers. 

Join us!
Date: Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Time: 10:30 AM
Location: George W. Nebinger School, 601 Carpenter St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

To RSVP or for more information, please email Laura.Copeland@phila.gov or call 215-685-4902 

RainCheck Goes Citywide

Depaved yard A residential yard depaved through the RainCheck program.

Good news! We made some exciting changes to our Rain Check program. Working together with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and Sustainable Business Network (SBN) we've expanded our reach, streamlined our process and increased our team of qualified contractors.

What has changed?  First – the program is now open to residents in the entire City. Prior to April 1st, downspout planters, rain gardens and masonry projects were only available to residents who lived in the Combined Sewer Area of Philadelphia. As of today, any resident can sign up.

Second – we’re merging all of our Stormwater Tools (rain barrels, downspout planters, rain gardens and porous pavement) into one program, called Rain Check. Don't worry, rain barrels are still free! Now you can explore all of these Stormwater Tools by attending a free Rain Check Workshop.  

Lastly – we’re offering Rain Check Workshops more frequently and in more Philadelphia neighborhoods. Everyone who participates in the program is required to attend a workshop. As we expand the program, we’re looking for hosts for our Rain Check workshops. If you think your community would be a good place for a workshop, contact Guina Hammond (ghammond@pennhort.org) at PHS. 

Through Rain Check, PWD provides free rain barrels and helps pay for downspout planters, rain gardens, de-paving and porous pavements. Sign up here: www.phillywatersheds.org/raincheck or call PHS Information Services (215) 988-1698. 

We Won! Green City, Clean Waters Wins the National APA Planning Excellence Award

Back in October we announced that Green City, Clean Waters was awarded the American Planning Association (APA) Pennsylvania Chapter's Planning Excellence Award in Implementation. We are now thrilled to announce that we won the APA 2015 National Planning Excellence Award for ImplementationThis award recognizes a project that demonstrates positive changes as a result of planning efforts. The award emphasizes long-term, measurable results that have been in continuous effect for a minimum of three years.

Now in our fourth year of Green City, Clean Waters, we have worked to implement green stormwater infrastructure citywide:

  • Projects complete: 113 
  • Projects in design or under construction: 187 
  • Private property technical assistance requests: 450 
  • Grant funding for retrofitting existing properties with green infrastructure: $14 million. 

And some positive spin-off effects of these projects have already been documented, like the recent study linking our green stormwater projects to drops in certain kinds of crimes. Learn more about why we were granted the award by checking out the APA web page featuring Green City, Clean Waters

green infrastructure graphic

The APA Awards Jury Chair, W. Shedrick Coleman, lauded Green City, Clean Waters for setting “the benchmark for meeting state and federal water quality mandates through solely green interventions” and “changing the face of the city.” Pretty high praise!

Green City, Clean Waters and the other APA award recipients will be honored at the 2015 National Planning Awards luncheon on April 20, 2015, in Seattle. Our plan will also be featured in the April 2015 issue of Planning magazine (we will be happy to autograph your copy)!

Thanks to the American Planning Association for this great recognition. But as much as we love getting awards, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Green City, Clean Waters is a 25-year plan to improve water quality in Philadelphia and create a healthier, more sustainable city through green stormwater infrastructure. We’ll be changing the face of the city—in a good way—for another two decades! Plenty more good news to come!

The Value of Water

Value of Water Coalition logo

Philadelphia Water Department is proud to be a founding member of The Value of Water Coalition, an alliance of public and private water agencies, business and community leaders, and national organizations united in communicating the importance of water to the economic, environmental, and social well-being of America. 

The Value of Water Coalition draws attention to our nation’s aging and underfunded water infrastructure, and educates on the fundamental importance of water. PWD plays a crucial role in the Coalition’s work with Commissioner Howard Neukrug serving on the Steering Committee and contributing content to the Coalition's website

The Coalition is growing and redoubling its efforts in 2015 as water-related issues are a rising concern for the nation. Issues like water main breaks in the Northeast during the cold winter months, which we recently discussed on this blog, and record drought affecting the West Coast

Despite the essential role that water plays in driving critical sectors of the economy and contributing to the high quality of life we enjoy in America, water is often overlooked in the national discussion of infrastructure investment, especially since water infrastructure is largely invisible. Few people (at least those who don’t regularly read this blog!) realize what it takes to treat and deliver drinking water every day or how wastewater is cleaned so that it can be safely reused or returned to the environment. The Value of Water is seeking to get that conversation going.

To learn more about The Value of Water’s work, visit: thevalueofwater.org and follow them on Twitter @TheValueofWater.

Webinar: Green Schoolyards and Citizen Science

The Philadelphia Water Department isn't just interested in managing stormwater at schools—we're leveraging opportunities to create outdoor classrooms that connect students to their environment. Join us on Monday, March 30 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. for Green City, Clean Waters: A Case Study for Greening Schoolyards in Philadelphia, a webinar presented by Toronto-based urban environmental organization Evergreen.

Lois Brink, chief strategist for the Big Sandbox, will share the successes of the Philadelphia Green Schools Alliance and discuss the creation of vibrant green spaces at our urban schools. Matthew Fritch, an environmental engineer with PWD, will detail the greenSTEM Network—an educational initiative to connect students to schoolyard rain gardens via low-cost, real-time sensor technology.

Registration for the webinar is free.