Wanted: West Phila. Students for Watershed Stewardship Training

In a recent talk hosted by the TTF Watershed Partnership, acclaimed author Richard Louv urged Philadelphia parents to make sure their kids are getting enough “Vitamin N”—as in nature.

Making a connection to the wildlife and habitats around us is a life skill that can help our youth fend off stress and “nature deficit disorder,” says Louv.

Thanks to the new Philadelphia Watershed Stewardship program, West Philadelphia youth can get a healthy dose of nature along with valuable life and career skills. There’s even a stipend to sweeten the pot.

Last year, we partnered with the LandHealth Institute—a nonprofit providing environmental education to local teens—to create one of the first youth stewardship programs in the City committed to protecting our watersheds. That first season saw great things happen for the students and for our waterways, so we’re excited to bring in a new team of enthusiastic, passionate stewards to help us do it again this year.

The deadline to apply is Friday, April 6th. Access the application online here.

Those interested in applying should contact Dan Kobza from the LandHealth Institute at daniel@landhealthinstitute.org for more information. Kobza will get a hand in running the program from Dan Schupsky, PWD’s community contact for West Philadelphia Green City, Clean Waters projects.

 

How Stewards Serve

Beginning in late spring, 15 high school students age 15-18 from the West Philadelphia area will work alongside PWD, the LandHealth Institute and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) for 11 weeks.

Students will start out learning how to protect the Darby-Cobbs watershed, which flows through many West and Southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods, with lessons covering topics like ecology, watershed management and stormwater runoff. After the training sessions, students will spend the summer applying the new skills in their communities.

The stewards will train with LandHealth and the Parks and Recreation staff at the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center— the perfect home base for the Watershed Stewards.

As a potent connector that's linked West Philadelphia residents to the natural world for decades, the center provides a familiar local meeting place where Stewards can host community events, a classroom, and place where students can do real work to improve an urban watershed.

Students can earn up to $850 over the course of the program. Those who complete all training sessions will earn $275. An additional $575 can be earned by participating in various events. Being a Watershed Steward will even give students a leg up when applying for jobs and programs like Philadelphia Youth Network and Power Corps PHL.

First Year Highlights

Here’s a sample of some Watershed Stewards activities from the first year:

 

 

In addition to the skills and knowledge they pick up, the program empowers students by connecting them to environmental and civic leaders, mentors, and new friends while immersing them in a side of the city they may not have experienced before.

Don’t just take our word for it—check out the blog posts penned by last year’s stewards!

Who Is a Watershed Steward?

The ideal Watershed Steward is eager to learn and passionate about protecting the environment, our local waterways, and their community—no prior experience is needed.

To apply, students must submit one letter of recommendation along with their application.

Please apply today and share with like-minded friends! If you have any questions, contact Dan Schupsky at Daniel.Schupsky@phila.gov or 215-683-3405.

EXTRA: Read about how we work with the Cobbs Creek Environmental Education Center in this Philadelphia Neighborhoods article -

Coming up: Join Us to Discuss Ideas for Growing Private Green Infrastructure

Have ideas for helping create more success stories like this one in Philadelphia? We want to hear from you.

We recently issued an official "Request for Information," or RFI, supporting the City's efforts to grow the footprint of green stormwater infrastructure on private and non-City property.

To help answer any questions and provide more details about why we issued this RFI, we're hosting an information session on January 10, 2018.

Starting at 9 a.m., the one-hour info session will take place at Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) headquarters, located at 1101 Market Street. Those interested should come to Conference Room 5A on 5th floor.

Responses to this RFI are due by February 9, 2018.

Stormwater Salvation: Could Your Faith-Based Group Get Help to Go Green + Save?

Bethesda's Grant-Funded Rain Gardens

As an early adopter of green infrastructure and Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) grant recipient, Bethesda Presbyterian's congregation blazed a trail for other faith-based organizations to follow and are committed to protecting Philadelphia’s water.

Bethesda Presbyterian Church sits on a large plot of land in Northeast Philadelphia’s Bustleton neighborhood. The church’s monthly stormwater fees—higher than they would like—reflected the property's large proportion of impervious surfaces, which put a considerable burden on the local sewers during storms. (More about how stormwater fees work here.)

Fortunately, Joan Wilson, a church elder, was determined to reduce that stormwater charge.

New ‘Quiz,’ Website to Jumpstart Your Discounted 2018 Green Home Upgrade

Click this image to visit the new Rain Check site and answer a few questions that will help you find the best discounted green stormwater improvement for your home.
The updated Rain Check website offers customized options for residents interested in free or discounted green improvements offered through the Philadelphia Water Department Rain Check program. Visit www.PWDRainCheck.org

Rain Check—our program best known for providing City residents with free rain barrels—is entering its sixth year with a new website designed to encourage more home landscaping projects that protect local waterways.

By visiting the new Rain Check site, residents can now get a jumpstart on sustainable projects in the new year by discovering the best green upgrade for their property, right from their phone or computer.

“More than 3,500 Philly homes now have rain barrels or other green stormwater tools thanks to Rain Check, so there’s clearly an appetite for sustainable home improvement projects in our city,” says program manager and PWD employee Jeanne Waldowski. “With this new website, we’re giving people who are thinking big about ‘greening’ their home in 2018 the tools they need to make it happen.”

While free rain barrels are the most popular tool installed through Rain Check, the program also provides deep discounts on a range of green upgrades that lessen a home’s stormwater pollution footprint.

Using fresh features on the new website, homeowners can explore whether a rain barrel, planter, or more involved green upgrade—such as a rain garden or rain-absorbing back patio—is a good fit for their property. After deciding what tool is the best option for shrinking their property’s stormwater pollution footprint, residents can sign up for an upcoming workshop.

The free educational workshops, held in neighborhoods across the city, are mandatory to receive a free rain barrel or participate in Rain Check cost-sharing.

Check it Out: Take a quick quiz that will help you pick a project now

Rain Check

“People don’t always have time to come to one of our free Rain Check workshops just to find out that their property doesn’t qualify for a rain barrel or other green tool, so we designed the new site in a way that will help residents find out in advance what will work best on their property,” says Waldowski. “By taking a short quiz about their property, people can quickly find out if Rain Check is a good fit and what options are available.”

Qualifying projects can receive up to $2,000 through Rain Check cost-sharing.

Schuylkill River Trail Water Stations Closed for Winter

Four water stations along the Schuylkill River Trail between East Falls and the Fairmount Water Works were closed in November 2017 for winterization and will reopen spring 2018.
Water stations along Kelly Drive were closed following the Phila. Marathon for winterization and will reopen in spring 2018. Credit: Laura Copeland and Frank Gaffney, Philadelphia Water Department.

Following the 2017 Philadelphia Marathon, Philadelphia Water Department crews shut down and winterized all four Schuylkill River Trail water stations located between the Falls Bridge and Fairmount Water Works. The much-used features—offering fountains, bottle filling stations and ground-level bowls for dog walkers—are taken offline each winter to guard against freezing temperatures that can cause burst plumbing.

When spring temperatures allow, Water crews will perform maintenance, flushing and testing before restoring service to the stations.

First introduced in 2016, the stations provided trail users with more than 21,000 gallons of drinking water between late April and mid-November during the 2017 season. In terms of the volume of plastic, single-use bottles kept out of the waste stream, the stations distributed enough water to fill roughly 159,100 half-liter disposable bottles.

In addition to providing free access to top-quality drinking water for daily trail users, the water stations reduced waste and litter generated by marquee events held along Philadelphia’s scenic Schuylkill River waterfront.

The stations provided enough water to offset nearly 2,200 single-use plastic bottles during the 2017 Head of the Schuylkill Regatta alone. During the one-day Dragon Boat Festival, spectators and competitors drank enough Philly tap to fill nearly 1,700 16-ounce plastic bottles.

The Philadelphia Water Department is working with partners in the Office of Sustainability, Parks and Recreation, the School District, Public Health and other City departments to expand access to drinking water and promote Philadelphia’s top-quality water as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

Increased access to drinking water stations will also encourage refillable bottle use, furthering the City’s Clean PHL anti-litter and Zero Waste initiatives.

To get alerts about water station openings, subscribe to Philadelphia Water Department alerts with your email and mobile number here.

Your Pipes Can Freeze Too!
Note: Homeowners should be winterizing their plumbing, too. From shutting off outdoor hose connections to insulating basement windows near the water meter, there are number of things homeowners can do to prevent extreme cold from causing damage that a can lead to frozen pipes, flooded basements, and costly repairs. You can check out some cold-weather tips here and in the video below. 


Keeping out the Cold from Philadelphia Water Department on Vimeo.

1,000 Greened Acres (So Far): It Took a City

1,000 (Green) Thank Yous from Mayor Kenney + PWD

While the Philadelphia Water Department designed the Green City, Clean Waters program, its scope has grown far beyond PWD since being approved by state and federal environmental agencies in 2011.

As we've seen over the last six years, to really transform Philadelphia's landscape on a scale that's big enough to have a real impact on our rivers, it takes more than just Water Department crews and contractors building rain gardens.

In fact, it takes a whole city working together, not to mention supportive partners on the state and federal level.

That’s why PWD, Mayor Kenney and our partners across City government put the spotlight on community groups, nonprofits, businesses, organizations and residents when we celebrated the 1,000th Greened Acre created under Green City, Clean Waters.

The diverse group of people and organizations at the City Hall 1,000 (Green) Thank Yous celebration was a real tribute to the dedicated coalition that’s working to protect Philadelphia’s water.

Much more than a number, the 1,000 Greened Acres you helped us build represent a true transformation of our urban landscape, one that’s having a positive impact on our waterways.

Today, green tools can keep nearly 28 million gallons of polluted runoff out of our rivers during just one inch of rain—an amount that can add up to a billion gallons of stormwater and sewer overflows not going into our waterways annually.

Without residents attending community meetings about projects or civic groups caring for local green tools through the Soak It Up adoption program, we would not be where we are today.

The same goes for businesses, large and small, using our grant programs to invest in green stormwater improvements on their properties…

…And for the schools across the city making rain gardens, permeable pavement and other green tools a central part of revitalizing schoolyards…

…And for the developers embracing the shared imperative of protecting our waterways by incorporating smart stormwater design into new projects

…And for our partners in departments throughout the City of Philadelphia, like Parks and Recreation and Streets, who work alongside us to bring landscaped green features to recreation centers, sidewalks, transit stations and more…

It would take up your whole day to actually list all 1,000 of the “thank yous” we owe, but you get the idea—it takes a whole city working together to achieve the big vision that is Green City, Clean Waters.

We still have nearly two decades to go before we reach our final goal—9,564 Greened Acres by 2036—and PWD looks forward to growing and strengthening the partnerships it will take to achieve rivers and creeks that are cleaner than they’ve been in generations.

Extra: How do Green Tools Work?

Winter is coming: Watch this cold-weather tips vid and avoid frozen pipes

The arrival of chilly nights means it's time to make sure your pipes are protected from cold winter temps that can cause frozen or burst pipes in your home or on your property.

While most plumbing is deep enough underground or insulated well enough within your home to avoid freezing, water meters and water service lines can freeze when the temperature drops below 32 degrees in some cases. This can cause water to stop flowing or pipes to burst. Take steps before winter to protect your pipes: check out our Cold Weather Tips quick-facts here, and get more info in this video:


Keeping out the Cold from Philadelphia Water Department on Vimeo.

 

If your pipes freeze
If you don’t have water during extreme cold, check your pipes before calling our hotline. Many customers mistakenly assume a water main is broken when their home’s pipes freeze and spend valuable time on the phone.

Unfortunately, we cannot thaw your frozen pipes. You may have to wait for the line to thaw or call a plumber. However, if you take the proper precautions and winterize your house, you will likely be able to keep your pipes inside from freezing. Our Cold Weather Tips quick-facts also provide info for dealing with frozen plumbing.

If you're sure your pipes aren't frozen and there's no water on your block/in your home, call our hotline at (215) 685-6300.

FALL TIP: Don't let the cold sneak up on you!

The first night of very cold temperatures can catch people off guard, and that can leave garden hoses or outside faucets that have been left on vulnerable to freezing and bursting. Often more than a headache and trip to the hardware store for new hose, these mishaps can cause real damage if the water continues to flow after the hose, hose bib or faucet breaks under pressure.

Avoid the risk: Just find the valve or handle that connects your inside plumbing to the outside faucet. It should be close to the spot on your wall where the outside water is accessible.

Freezing temps are here. It's time to shut off the water to your outside faucet and hose, which will burst in extreme cold.     

We owe Philly's Clean Water Champions 1,000 (Green) Thank Yous

RSVP now for an Oct. 12 celebration marking 1000 Greened Acres. Come to City Hall from 6 to 830 p.m.

You're invited to celebrate...

1,000 Greened Acres.

Can you soak that in? Philly has created one thousand Greened Acres.

Yes, it’s impressive … but you want to know the best part? YOU did it: One rain garden, one Rain Check workshop and one Soak It Up Adoption cleanup at a time, Philly’s community groups, residents, businesses, institutions and Green City, Clean Waters partners made it possible to mark this milestone achievement—1,000 Greened Acres.

On Oct. 12 at City Hall, Mayor Jim Kenney, City officials and the Philadelphia Water Department will recognize you and all the other green champions who laid the foundation for Green City, Clean Waters and worked with us to achieve cleaner waterways for all Philadelphians.
Let us know if you'll be there + invite friends:

RSVP now for an Oct. 12 celebration marking 1000 Greened Acres. Come to City Hall from 6 to 830 p.m.

Thanks to your support and hard work, the green tools spread throughout our neighborhoods are soaking up nearly 28 million gallons of stormwater every time Philly gets an inch of rain.

During a typcial year of weather, that adds up to more than 1.6 billion gallons of polluted water being kept out of our rivers and creeks.

It’s a big step, but we're just getting started. To reach our goal of building 9,500+ Greened Acres and reducing sewer overflows by 85 percent by 2036, we'll need strong community advocates and green champions like you more than ever.

That’s why we want you to join us in the City Hall Courtyard: Philly can do it—but not without YOU!