Delaware

Philadelphia Water's Early Warning System Getting Praise from High Places

Above: A map provided by the Source Water Protection Program's Early Warning System showing the tidal spill model trajectory for a hypothetical spill along the Delaware River.
Above: A map provided by the Source Water Protection Program's Early Warning System showing the tidal spill model trajectory for a hypothetical spill along the Delaware River.

Our Source Water Protection Program at Philadelphia Water does all kinds of important work to ensure the water we drink is safe and protected, from far-off springs in the Catskill and Pocono mountains all the way down to the intakes at our drinking water treatment plants.  However, one of the most critical jobs is overseeing the Delaware Valley Early Warning System–a complex network that stretches from the Delaware Water Gap all the way to Wilmington, Del. and provides a way to sound the alarm when incidents like spills and flooding events occur. 

In recognition of the hard work the Source Water Protection Program (SWPP) does to make sure this crucial web-based system is constantly updated to provide the fastest possible warning and response during emergency situations, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection selected the Delaware Valley Early Warning System (EWS) for the 2015 Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence.  Our EWS will be among 15 other programs honored during a special dinner on April 28 in Harrisburg. The award recognizes “the development of a project that promotes environmental stewardship and economic development in the state,” according to the Pa. DEP website.

At its core, the EWS has a simple goal: to notify drinking water suppliers and other water consumers along the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers of spills and accidents that occur upstream as quickly as possible. Doing that requires a sophisticated network of over 300 users representing 50 organizations that make up what’s called the EWS Partnership.  Groups within the Partnership can access the system via the EWS telephone hotline or website to alert the network about spills and other incidents, and high-tech features like real-time water quality monitoring and computer models showing how quickly contaminants are moving downstream provide additional information for quick and smart decision making.

Last year, the Source Water team made the EWS even better by implementing a new computer model that predicts the tidal movement of water–critical information during a spill or flood scenario–in the lower Delaware River, where tides play a role in where water goes. This greatly enhanced detail on tidal flows in the Delaware Estuary is of tremendous value to places like PWD’s Baxter drinking water treatment plant, which supplies approximately 60 percent of the city with drinking water.

Given Philadelphia’s location along two rivers at the very bottom of a watershed with plenty of industrial activity, incidents requiring the use of the EWS are inevitable.  This reality makes the work of the SWPP team–and especially maintenance of the warning system–incredibly important, so we are particularly proud of this award from the Pa. DEP. Keep on keeping us safe!

A Clean River Attracts the Bass

Mike Iaconelli (credit: Alan McGuckin via CBS 3 Philadelphia)
Mike Iaconelli (credit: Alan McGuckin via CBS 3 Philadelphia)

From river testing to Bassmaster – the Delaware River is in the spotlight. Starting last Thursday, Philadelphia welcomed Bassmaster Elite to the banks of the Delaware. This nation-wide tournament, spanning four days, started off with 107 competitors – all competing for the grand prize check worth $100,000. By Saturday the competition cut down to 50, and finally, by Sunday only the top 12 remained.

PWD joins our fellow Philadelphians in sending our congratulations to this year’s winner Michael Laconelli. A Philly native, Laconelli has taken part in almost 200 tournaments in the last few years and has earned more than two million dollars in winnings.

“Bass fishing, professional and recreational, isn’t limited to rural areas or to places where true giant bass live. Philly is about as metropolitan as it gets. And yet, look at the crowds. At the same time, this tournament shows that metropolitan waters produce bass. Nine out of the 12 anglers caught limits today”, wrote Iaconelli on a blog.

Did you know that the Water Department monitors fish species in the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers? Click here to learn more about how PWD studies water quality by tracking the numerous aquatic species in our waterways.

New Video: Philadelphia's First Porous Street

Pass by the 800 block of tiny Percy Street near the Italian Market in South Philadelphia and you may not even notice that you're in the presence of Philadelphia's first street to be retrofitted with porous paving. Check out the new video from GreenTreks to learn about the design, construction and functionality of Percy Street's porous paving. It's just one of the many green infrastructure tools that PWD is using to soak up stormwater before it can enter our sewer system and cause overflows into our rivers and streams.

Scenes from the Northern Liberties Spokesdog Contest

Last weekend, Northern Liberties awarded its spokesdog title to Scooter, a Schnauzer-Beagle mix who'll help educate pet owners about the importance of picking up dog waste in order to keep our streams and rivers clean. Thanks to all the dog owners, judges and participants in this year's spokesdog contest! Above, Scooter is dog tired after a rigorous competition.

Northern Liberties Chooses Its Spokesdog: Scooter!


Photo: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

On Saturday, Philly Water got another new best friend: Meet Scooter, the Schnauzer/Beagle mix who took home the title of Northern Liberties spokesdog. Above, Dee Ross of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary affixes Scooter's new spokesdog cape as owners Julia Vu and Gary Acers look on. As spokesdog, Scooter will teach humans to pick up dog waste in order to protect our waterways from harmful bacteria. Congratulations to Scooter and all the participants!

Good Dogs: Photos from the Queen Village Spokesdog Competition

Here's our photo essay from last weekend's Philly Water's Best Friend competition at Mario Lanza Park in Queen Village. Thanks to all the dog owners, judges, volunteers and neighbors who turned out for a fun event that was part doggie pageant and part quiz show—above, Betty the pug tackles a tough question from the judges about keeping our waterways clean by picking up pet waste. Nice job, Betty.

And a reminder—the Northern Liberties spokesdog competition is tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Liberty Lands.

Saturday: Northern Liberties Spokesdog Competition

It's like awards season for dogs: Last weekend, Queen Village crowned Joey Bag-o-Donuts as its ambassadog, and this weekend, Northern Liberties will hold its judging and awards ceremony on Saturday, June 9 at 3:00 p.m. at Liberty Lands. Make a day of it—Liberty Lands is hosting a cook-off starting at noon, followed by the spokesdog contest and then a free music festival that begins at 4:00 p.m.

Take a look at the finalists that will walk the green carpet at Liberty Lands on Saturday.

King of Queen Village: Joey Bag-o-Donuts Takes Home QV Spokesdog Crown


Photo: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

On Saturday, the Philadelphia Water Department and a panel of judges awarded the Philly Water's Best Friend title in Queen Village to ... Joey Bag-o-Donuts! The 32-pound Shiba Inu, described by owner Ellie Gibbard as a "world-class snuggler," took top honors among the contestants at Mario Lanza Park. Joey Bag-o-Donuts and his owner will assume the responsibility of teaching Philadelphians and their dogs how they can reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in our waterways by picking up pet waste.

Stay tuned for more photos from the contest.

Tomorrow: Queen Village Spokesdog Judging and Awards Ceremony

The wait is almost over—tomorrow, Saturday June 2 at 10 a.m. at Mario Lanza Park, Queen Village will crown its spokesdog. Join us for the judging, to be immediately followed by the awards ceremony and the grand opening of the Mario Lanza Park doggie doo composter! How apropos.

Shell Account: Red-Bellied Turtle Spotted at Lardner's Point


Photo: Rebecca Kennedy/Pennsylvania Environmental Council

The Philly Watersheds Blog is not in the habit of posting photos of baby animals for the sake of posting photos of baby animals (although it is Friday, and who among you would blame us?), and so we inform you that this red-bellied turtle hatchling was spotted earlier this week near the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge along the Delaware River. More specifically, the turtle was observed at Lardner's Point, a brand  new four-acre city park on the site of a former ferry terminal where a 2004 oil spill occurred. "More than just a pretty park on a pier," writes Sandy Bauers in an Inquirer article this week, "it is an ecological restoration that turned a concreted shoreline into a freshwater marsh, thick with plants and beneficial to wildlife."

As if to illustrate the point, this red-bellied turtle—a threatened species in Pennsylvania—showed up on the newly restored sandy beach. According to eyewitness accounts, the turtle had one eye, was feisty, and was last seen paddling back into the river. It's possible the turtle made his way across the river from the Palmyra Cove Nature Park in New Jersey, which has a red-bellied turtle population.

More photos below—happy Friday, everyone.

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