Climate Change

Philadelphia Water Department’s Kelly Drive Water Stations Set to Return

Thumbs up for water access: The Kelly Drive water stations will be flowing again soon.
Thumbs up for water access: The Kelly Drive water stations will be flowing again soon.

With the return of warmer weather, we're preparing to restore service at our four Schuylkill River Trail/Kelly Drive water stations and plan to have them online by the end of April. The stations made their debut in spring 2016 and were winterized and closed in late November 2016 to protect the internal plumbing from freezing temperatures.

Philly Science Fest Highlights Overlooked STEM-Water Relationship

What Science Looks Like: Philadelphia Water Department Aquatic biologists Lance Butler and Joe Perillo sampling the health of aquatic wildlife on the Schuylkill River. Careers in science at PWD will be highlighted at this year’s Philadelphia Science Festival.
What Science Looks Like:
Philadelphia Water Department Aquatic biologists Lance Butler and Joe Perillo sampling the health of aquatic wildlife on the Schuylkill River. Careers in science at PWD will be highlighted at this year’s Philadelphia Science Festival
.

When you turn on the tap for a fresh glass of Philadelphia water, do you think about all the scientists and engineers who make this daily convenience possible?

If your answer is "no," you're not alone.

But the fact is, science and engineering are a big part of the work we do at the Philadelphia Water Department every day.

From the biologists who monitor our source water (see photo above) to the laboratory technicians at the Bureau of Laboratory Services who sample and test the finished product to ensure safety, we rely on a variety of scientific experts to bring you top-quality water around the clock every day of the year.

We also have environmental scientists studying how climate change will impact our rivers and infrastructure, engineers working to transform waste water into energy, hydrologists fine-tuning green stormwater systems, and more.

That’s why we’re excited to once again be a part of the Philadelphia Science Festival—we want to highlight the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) that makes access to clean, abundant water possible and attract young people considering STEM careers to this critical field.

A “nine-day, community-wide celebration of science,” the Philadelphia Science Festival features “lectures, debates, hands-on activities, special exhibitions and a variety of other informal science education experiences for all ages.”

Green City, Clean Waters Named ‘Climate Hero’ at Sustain PHL Celebration

Philadelphia Water picked up the Sustain PHL Climate Hero Award (center) on Aug. 18. Credit: Philadelphia Water
Philadelphia Water picked up the Sustain PHL Climate Hero Award (center) on Aug. 18. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Philadelphia Water and the Green City, Clean Waters program received the first-ever Climate Hero Award at Sustain PHL, a citywide sustainability celebration held before a packed house at the WHYY studios on August 18.

Adaptation, Mitigation, City Greening and Water Cleaning – Philadelphia Water Tackles Climate Change


Top Left:
Solar panels at our Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant; Bottom Left: Part of our Sewage Geothermal Installation, located at the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant; Right: Trees and plants at hundreds of sites citywide represent a green infrastructure network well-suited for coming climate change impacts.

Philadelphia Water was recently nominated as a “Climate Hero” for the first-ever SustainPHL, a citywide sustainability celebration hosted by the great people behind Green Philly Blog. The event will take place on August 18 at the WHYY studios on 6th Street, across from Independence Hall.

By their definition, Climate Hero nominees “…advocate to bring climate change as a central part of our conversation or take action to fight climate change.”

So what puts us in this category along with Swarthmore College and #ClimateDisrupted? How can a water department like Philadelphia Water be a “Climate Hero”?

A better question might be: how could we not get involved in climate change?

Join us at the Science Fest this Weekend and Celebrate 5 Years of Green City, Clean Waters!

 How Do You Play a Part in the Green City, Clean Waters Plan for the Future? Find Out at Science Fest!

Students filled out cards that let them tell their Green City, Clean Waters story on Earth Day. You can take part and tell your story at Science Fest! Credit: Philadelphia WaterStudents filled out cards that let them tell their Green City, Clean Waters story on Earth Day. You can take part and tell your story at Science Fest! Credit: Philadelphia Water

This Saturday, Philadelphia Water will be celebrating the fifth year of Philly’s revolutionary 25-year Green City, Clean Waters program at the Franklin Institute Science Carnival, part of this year’s Philadelphia Science Festival.

As it happens, the event will be at Penn’s Landing along the banks of the Delaware River, one of the waterways that will benefit the most as Green City, Clean Waters continues to grow over the next 20 years.

Freakishly Warm Philly Weather Has Climate Change on Our Minds

Day of First Freeze 1948-2015 Philadelphia Int'l Airport

At the start of the month, we talked about the Paris climate change conference and what we're doing to prepare for global warming. Record high temperatures were set over the weekend and more highs are likely this week. But it’s another warm weather-related event that has us concerned: Last Sunday, December 6, was the first time in fall 2015 that the official temperature at Philadelphia International Airport was at or below 32º F.

This is about a month later than the average date of the first freeze, and it's the first time we've gone without a freeze through November. In fact, when looking at the period of record from 1948-2015, it's the latest the first freeze of the year has happened, beating the previous record of November 28, set in 2010, by eight days. And while weather is not climate, the date of the first freeze has been getting later over the last few decades. 

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.

New Filling Stations, 12,000 Free Reusable Bottles to Fight Plastic Bottle Litter

This graph shows that 55 percent of litter collected from the Schuylkill during recent skimmer boat trips was plastic, and 77 percent of that was platic bottles. SourceL Lance Butler, Philadelphia Water.
Clogging our Rivers: This graph shows that over 55 percent of litter collected from the Schuylkill River during recent skimmer boat trips was plastic, and 77 percent of that was plastic bottles. Click the graph for a larger image. Source: Environmental Restoration & Maintenance,
Office of Watersheds, Philadelphia Water.

Philadelphia Water and a coalition of people and groups who care about our rivers, parks and planet are taking the fight against wasteful single-use water bottles to the Schuylkill River.

Mayor Michael Nutter will join partners in this campaign at Kelly Drive and Fountain Green Drive on Friday, Oct. 23 at 12 p.m. in announcing a new network of water bottle filling stations that will stretch along Kelly Drive from East Falls to Boathouse Row, providing convenient access to free drinking water on one of the region’s most popular recreational trails.

Philadelphia Water Makes ASCE's 'Game Changer' List

Game Changer: Our Biogas Cogeneration facility at the Northeast WPCP is changing the way people think about wastewater management. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Game Changer: Our Biogas Cogeneration facility at the Northeast WPCP in Port Richmond is changing the way people think about wastewater management. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

The American Society of Civil Engineers rolled out a cool new campaign last week to highlight infrastructure projects around the country that they see as “game changers”—investments that have the potential to change the way we live for the better.

Making their list of innovative infrastructure was our very own Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant, a high-tech facility that treats an average of 188.12 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Located in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood, the 150-acre Northeast WPCP facility is our biggest and oldest wastewater treatment plant. So why is ASME calling it a “game changer”?

The Northeast WPCP is home to our Biogas Cogeneration facility, a modern marvel that essentially turns a harmful human waste byproduct—methane gas— into enough energy to power about 85 percent of the plant’s operations.

In cruder terms: it’s power from poop.

This infrastructure investment has a number of benefits, not least of which is a reduced operating cost, which helps to keep rates low for our customers. Considering energy consumption is by far one of the biggest expenses in water treatment, creating that much energy for our biggest wastewater plant is a big deal.

From a more altruistic perspective, the Biogas Cogeneration facility also acts as a double-edge sword in fighting climate change; we’re keeping a powerful greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere while simultaneously reducing the need for fossil fuel-sourced electricity.
That makes the facility a win-win-win scenario.

The ASCE also lauds our biosolids recycling program and efforts to replace aging pipes and water mains:

"… they have increased investment in water pipes by 25 percent in their latest capital improvement program. However the Department’s Strategic Energy Plan also looks to better manage future expenses – it includes a facility that will extract energy from material typically thought of as waste. … Their ultimate goal for all of the wastewater treatment plants in the City is to be net zero energy consumption."

You can check out the full story and other innovation success stories at ASCEGameChangers.org.

Learn more about our sustainability initiatives here and get an overview of how the Biogas facility works here.

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! 

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