Delaware River

Philly's Latest Green Schoolyard Project Breaks Ground in Fishtown

On Tuesday, February 21, the Philadelphia Water Department joined a broad group of partners, including Fishtown residents, parents, teachers and students from the Adaire School community, City departments, the School District of Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation and the nonprofit Trust for Public Land to break ground on Philadelphia’s latest green schoolyard project.

On hand were a number of public officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite, Council President Darrell Clarke and Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis.

If that list of names and organizations seems long, that’s because it is: to make projects like this a success, it takes an entire community and support from both the City and nonprofit institutions.

Second Round of American Street Open Houses: Join Us to Learn About Major Improvements

The City of Philadelphia is bringing some big improvements to North American Street with the help of a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, better known as a TIGER grant.

To get input from residents in neighborhoods along American Street, we’re holding two open houses as a follow up to the two events held in July. We’ll be providing more information about this $15 million project, which targets the two-mile stretch of American Street between Girard Avenue and Indiana Avenue.

The next open house events will be held in mid-November:

Tuesday, November 15:

Front & Palmer
1750 N. Front St., from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Thursday, November 17:


Pan American Academy Charter School (Cafeteria)


2830 N. American St., from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Light refreshments will be provided, and we will have team members there who can answer any questions for Spanish speakers.
In addition to Philadelphia Water, the Streets Department and the Commerce Department will be working on proposed improvements that include:

• Removing the unused trolley tracks and installing landscaped green infrastructure that will manage water from storms and protect local waterways

• Additional landscaping and street amenities, such as trash receptacles and lighting

• Wider, accessible sidewalks

• Access to business properties

• Improved traffic flow for all users

• Shorter crossing distances for pedestrians

• New bicycle lanes
Construction on this work is expected to begin in January 2018.

We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming open house events!

Please share this post or the flyer below with your neighbors:

The next open house events will be held in mid-November:

Philadelphia Water, On the Water: Boats a Powerful Tool in Fight Against Litter

Left to Right: Lance Butler, Dimitri Forte, Declan Patterson, and Richard Anthes. Philadelphia Water’s Watersheds Field Services Group deploys a fleet of three small boats to reach trash in waterways that others can’t. Credit: Brian Rademaekers.
Left to Right: Lance Butler, Dimitri Forte, Declan Patterson, and Richard Anthes. Philadelphia Water’s Watersheds Field Services Group deploys a fleet of three small boats to reach trash in waterways that others can’t. Credit: Brian Rademaekers.   

During a typical litter-hunting trip in early June, Philadelphia Water’s Lance Butler was operating the department’s new 20-foot workboat along the banks of the Schuylkill River just below the Fairmount Water Works. Edging the bow of the craft just close enough to the rocky embankment, Butler made it possible for his three crew members to scoop up the otherwise unreachable trash that peppered the water and shoreline.

This was the workboat’s maiden voyage, and it was already proving to be an invaluable tool in the department’s fight against floating litter.

The activity attracted the attention of a young man sitting on a nearby bench. Within a few minutes, he approached the boat and asked Butler a question—could he have a trash bag?

“What for?” Butler asked.

“To pick up trash,” the man replied. “It’s such a beautiful park.”

An hour later, Butler and his crew—referred to within department as the “Watersheds Field Services Group,” and, less formally, as “the skimming guys”—were on the opposite side of the river, their boat growing ever-more crowded with bags containing the typical flotsam of plastic bottles and bags, Styrofoam cups and other debris that had washed into the breathtaking waters below Fairmount Dam.

On the other side of the river, the spontaneous volunteer was still at it, his bag of litter now bulging to the point of overflowing.

“That guy,” Butler said, “is amazing.”

Cohocksink/Northern Liberties Storm Flood Relief: Big Investments to Help Our Neighborhoods

For our final Infrastructure Week post, we are looking at a massive, multi-year project that will help reduce flooding related to heavy rains in several neighborhoods. Like many other cities, Philadelphia is dealing with a sewer system designed for a time when there were far fewer hard surfaces like streets, parking lots and buildings.

Because those surfaces don’t absorb rain, the water becomes stormwater runoff, which can overwhelm sewers, leading to localized flooding and combined sewer overflows. While the City is relying on Green Stormwater Infrastructure investments made through the Green City, Clean Waters program to deal with this challenge, those green tools are more effective when we also improve our traditional sewer system.

A good example of an investment in our existing system that will enhance Green City, Clean Waters projects is the Cohocksink Storm Flood Relief project, also called the Northern Liberties SFR. The project is named after the Cohocksink Creek, which once flowed through Kensington and Northern Liberties and emptied into the Delaware River not far from where SugarHouse Casino stands today.

Like many small streams in Philadelphia, the Cohocksink was covered over and integrated into the sewer system in the mid to late 1800s.
Today, the Cohocksink sewer system must manage stormwater drainage from more than 1,000 acres of urban land. 

To get the inside scoop on the Cohocksink improvements, we put a few questions to project manager Bill Dobbins, an engineer who has worked with Philadelphia Water since 2001.

Living Lands and Waters Leaves Philly with 32,832 Pounds Less Trash

Two Dumpsters full of trash from the Delaware River.
This trash was collected from the Delaware River by crews working with Living Lands and Waters in late August, early September. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

Living Lands and Waters, an Illinois-based non-profit dedicated to cleaning up America’s rivers, spent the end of the summer on the Delaware River. And they found lots and lots of trash.

In a cleanup effort that lasted from August 20 to September 2, LL&W travelled up and down the river in a pair of boats designed for collecting trash.

Here are the stats from their stay:

• LLW hosted a total of 20 cleanups

• 237 people from the region came out to gather trash

• 32,831.5 pounds (about 16.5 tons) of garbage were removed from the Delaware River

• 330 of the bags collected contained non-recyclable trash

• 353 (over 50 percent) of the bags collected contained recyclables

• 308 tires were removed and later recycled by Bridgestone/Firestone

Philadelphia Water took part in the effort, and one of the most striking aspects of the cleanup was just how many plastic bottles litter the banks of our biggest river. Nearly every foot of the shoreline near the Betsy Ross Bridge contained numerous plastic bottles, and only the infuriatingly hard to collect debris left behind by Styrofoam coffee cups came close to outnumbering this form of trash.

If anyone participating in that effort wasn’t an advocate for reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, they surely are now. Click here to see some photos (including some of a pickup truck literally overflowing with collected plastic bottles) from one of the cleanups with Philadelphia Water.

Northeast Residents Learn About New Green Sites

How a tree trench works. Click for more.
This diagram shows how a tree trench like the one planned for Moss Park collects and filters water before slowly releasing it into the ground. Click for more info.

Philadelphia Water held two community meetings in the Northeast in late August to talk about upcoming Green City, Clean Waters projects. Both projects will bring green infrastructure tools that manage stormwater to neighborhood recreation areas—the Max Myers Playground at Busleton and Magee avenues and Moss Park at Torresdale and Cheltenham avenues.

The Max Myers meeting was held Aug. 21 and covered plans for improvements to the park area and nearby streets that include two rain gardens and a stormwater storage basin beneath an existing baseball diamond. In addition to managing stormwater from the surrounding streets to address sewer overflows, the rain gardens will beautify the park with landscaping that includes plants and shrubs. Park users will also get a brand-new baseball diamond after the storage basin is complete.

Philadelphia Parks and Recreation is a partner for both projects, and Take Back Your Neighborhood, Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez and Councilman Bobby Henon helped spread word about the Max Myers meeting.

The Moss Park meeting was held Aug. 24, and current plans include managing stormwater from nearby streets through the use of a tree trench featuring 16 new trees. As currently planned, the project will include replacing a weathered sidewalk along Ditman Street. The Moss improvements also include two new rain gardens, a new path, and an underground stormwater storage basin.
The Aug. 24 meeting was held with the help of Councilman Henon, Parks and Recreation, and the Wissinoming Civic Association.

Because the projects are still in the early planning phase, these meetings focused on getting feedback from residents and potential construction start dates aren’t yet available. Stay tuned at Phillywatersheds.org for more updates and look for invites for the next round of meetings about this project.

Coast Day: Free Boat Rides, LEGO Boats and New Storm Drain Mascots!

Kayakers enjoy a free trip on the Delaware during the 2014 Pa. Coast Day Celebration. Credit: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.
Kayakers enjoy a free trip on the Delaware during the 2014 Pa. Coast Day Celebration. Credit: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

It's once again time for Pennsylvania Coast Day, and that means over 550 people will enjoy a free boat ride on Sept. 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Penn’s Landing.

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) will give away over 350 tickets for the RiverLink Ferry and 150 tickets for the Patriot during the event, which Philadelphia Water helps to sponsor. Both tours will be narrated, and guests can also enjoy free kayaking and pedal boating in Penn’s Landing Marina.

“Many people don’t realize the Delaware River is something they can experience and enjoy,” said Lisa Wool, program director at PDE. “This festival changes that by getting people on the water with their families, many for the first time.”

Philadelphia Water will also use Coast Day to roll out our new storm drain markers, which are now  customized to represent aquatic creatures from each of our city's seven watersheds. Here are two we made for storm drains that feed into the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers:
New storm drain markers for the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.We'll be spreading the word about the new markers and giving out kits community groups can use to mark drains in their neighborhoods. To learn more and order a marking kit for your area, visit this page

Other attractions include free face painting, free arts and crafts, free prizes, exhibits and more. A shuttle will also take you to our Fairmount Water Works museum site, where programs showcasing the city’s other coast, the tidal Schuylkill River, are always free.

Visitors can also venture inside the Independence Seaport Museum, where admission ranges from $10 to $15. This will get them up close with TEACH FLEET, the world’s largest collection of LEGO model ships. Its centerpiece is the new RV Hugh Sharp, modeled after a research vessel owned by the University of Delaware.
The Philadelphia Ship Model Society will also race motorized models in Penn’s Landing Marina. And the oil-spill boat DELBAY will be open for tours.

Other sponsors for Pennsylvania Coast Day include the Pennsylvania Coastal Resources Management Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, Fairmount Water Works, and Independence Seaport Museum.
More information is available at DelawareEstuary.org/Coast-Day. and by calling (800) 445-4935, extension 112.

UPDATE: Almost 10K Pounds of Trash Removed; Can You Help Too?

A crew of volunteers celebrates after hauling an impressive load of trash from the Delaware River. Credit: Living Lands and Waters.
A crew of volunteers celebrates after hauling an impressive load of trash from the Delaware River. Credit: Living Lands and Waters.

Philadelphia Water is sponsoring a big clean up on the Delaware River with Living Lands and Waters and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, and we're still looking for some fresh volunteers out on the water. In the first few clean up days, members of the community who care about the health of the Delaware have already collected nearly 10,000 pounds of trash!

That's almost five tons of litter and other pollution that would otherwise be hurting wildlife habitats and damaging a major Philadelphia drinking water source.
So don't just imagine what we could accomplish with a few more volunteer crewsput an exclamation point on the end of your summer and join us!

Clean ups will be held this week and weekend, and continue through Tuesday, September 1. Designated work days will include two shifts, one from 9 a.m. to noon and one from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. In order to coordinate sites, all volunteers must RSVP by clicking here and filling out the form a the bottom of the page. Supplies and free food will be provided.

Cleaning crews will be based out of the following locations:

Penn’s Landing – 101 S Columbus Blvd Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Walnut East parking lot, closest to the Seaport Museum and Marina)

Ridley Park Marina- 401 S Swarthmore Ave Ridley Park, PA 19078

Delair Boat Ramp – 17 Derousse Avenue Pennsauken, NJ 08110

More details will be emailed to volunteers prior to event.

Living Lands & Waters is an Illinois-based environmental organization established by Chad Pregracke in 1998. Read more about the fascinating story behind Living Lands and Waters on their website. Questions? Contact Living Lands and Waters at 563.505.8321 or amber@livinglandsandwaters.org.

From the Living Lands and Waters Instagram account:

Almost 10,000lbs of trash removed from the #DelawareRiver in just three #rivercleanups! #Philadelphia

A photo posted by Living Lands & Waters (@livinglandsandwaters) on

End Summer with a Bang: Volunteers Still Needed on the Delaware!

Event flyer
Click on the image above for larger, shareable version of the event flyer.

Looking for a fun way to do some volunteer work before the summer ends?
Time is running out, but we have just the event for you. Philadelphia Water is joining the nonprofit Living Lands and Waters and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary in an upcoming Delaware River cleanup event, and we need your help!

Join us as we clean up the Delaware River through September 1. Cleanups will be held on designated work days from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. While the deadline for signups was August 14, we're still looking for volunteers on all days. Please join us and RSVP here!

All events will be based out of the following locations:

Penn’s Landing – 101 S Columbus Blvd Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Walnut East parking lot, closest to the Seaport Museum and Marina)
Ridley Park Marina- 401 S Swarthmore Ave Ridley Park, PA 19078
Delair Boat Ramp – 17 Derousse Avenue Pennsauken, NJ  08110

More details will be emailed to volunteers prior to event.
Supplies and free food will be provided, and large groups are encouraged to register now.

Living Lands & Waters is an Illinois-based environmental organization established by Chad Pregracke in 1998. Read more about the fascinating story behind Living Lands and Waters on their website. Questions? Contact Amber at 563.505.8321 or amber@livinglandsandwaters.org.

Improvements to Address Northern Liberties Flooding

Northern Liberties flooding that occured after a July 9 downpour. Credit: Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.
Northern Liberties flooding that occurred after a July 9 downpour. Credit: Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.

After yet another heavy rainstorm last week, a section of Northern Liberties experienced localized flooding as result of an overwhelmed stormwater system.

This area contains the historic Cohocksink Creek and is the focus of a long-term infrastructure improvement project. Traditional sewer expansion and green stormwater tools will improve the capacity of the local system while reducing the amount of water entering sewers.

Philadelphia Water is aware of last week's flooding and on-going issues, and we're working with the community to address immediate concerns as we implement a plan to improve conditions in the long haul.
You can see a summary of plans to address flooding in the vicinity of Wildey and N. American streets here and here.

Impacted residents are also encouraged to attend a community meeting on the Northern Liberties Storm Flood Relief Program. Philadelphia Water representatives will discuss flood reduction efforts at the South Kensington Neighborhood Association,1301 N. 2nd St., on Tuesday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Stress on the Sewers: Is June Philly's New Monsoon?

The July 9 storm dumped nearly an inch of rain in just under 10 minutes—the heaviest of the month so far—and came at a time when the Delaware River was at its highest tide level.

It’s been a rather wet summer so far, and that means additional stress for stormwater infrastructure. After a historically dry May, June made up for it with a vengeance. Only two years have seen a wetter June in the city, according to records dating to 1872.

The wettest June ever was in 2013, followed by 1938 and 2015 with 8.88 inches. The National Weather Service lists June’s rain average as 3.43 inches.

It’s all part of a trend that has seen six of the rainiest Junes EVER occur in the city in just the last dozen years:

June 2013: 10.36 (1st)

June 2015: 8.88 (3rd)

June 2003: 8.08 (4th)

June 2006: 7.95 (6th)

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