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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.

Thank You, MLK Day of Service Volunteers, for Helping Philly Rivers

While MLK Day doesn't have the same environmental focus as say, Earth Day, the fact is, a lot of the work being done in King's honor during today's Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service—an event being touted as the biggest MLK Day volunteer effort in the nation—will help Philly's rivers and creeks.

Some events, like MLK Day cleanups planned for Bartram's Garden, the Schuylkill River Trail in Manayunk and along the Pennypack and Tacony creeks in Northeast Philly, are directly targeting our watersheds:

But even cleanup events in neighborhoods where you don't see a river or creek can help protect local aquatic wildlife. 

How?

Update to Rio vs. Philly Water Quality Blog: The Trash Problem

Stormwater runoff pollution isn’t just about the things that can make you sick. Litter from our streets gets washed into local waterways, hurting wildlife and nature’s beauty. Credit: Philadelphia Water
Stormwater runoff pollution isn’t just about the things that can make you sick. Litter from our streets gets washed into local waterways, hurting wildlife and nature’s beauty. Credit: Philadelphia Water 

Alan Robinson leads the Schuylkill Navy River Stewards committee, an organization that partners with Philadelphia Water to support our waterway trash removal efforts. After reading last week’s post on Rio’s water quality problems and what we do differently in Philadelphia, Robinson noted that stormwater runoff doesn’t just wash microscopic pollutants like pathogens and chemicals into our rivers and creeks.

His pet peeve is, in a purely physical sense, a larger problem.

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.”

Record-Setting ‘Sojourn’ Highlights the Schuylkill River’s Wild Beauty

Philadelphia Water's Paul Fugazzotto paddles to the finish of the 2016 Schuylkill Sojourn. A record 205 people joined the annual event this year. Photo credit: Brian Rademaekers
Philadelphia Water's Paul Fugazzotto paddles to the finish of the 2016 Schuylkill Sojourn. A record 205 people joined the annual event this year. Photo credit: Brian Rademaekers

If you happened to be in Philadelphia admiring the Schuylkill River’s picturesque beauty from afar last week, you might have been startled by what appeared to be an enormous flock of florescent birds, all of them rhythmically flapping their wings on the shimmering water:

Those “birds,” of course, were actually the 100-plus paddlers propelling the rainbow of brightly hued kayaks and canoes that made up the annual Schuylkill Sojourn. A seven day journey covering 112 miles of the Schuylkill River from its Schuylkill County headwaters all the way to Philadelphia’s Boathouse Row, the event has been held since 1998.

Innovative Infrastructure: New Stations Expand Drinking Water Access, Curb Plastic Waste

Infrastructure Week 2016: Drinking Water Stations

When people hear the word “infrastructure,” they think about roads, bridges and (if we’re lucky!) pipes.

But for Infrastructure Week 2016, we’re looking at elements of Philadelphia’s water system that might not come to mind when you think about infrastructure. (So far, we’ve looked at the thousands of new green tools created through the Green City, Clean Waters program and the 75,000+ storm drains found on city streets.)

Today, we’re looking at a brand-new kind of infrastructure that rethinks an old standard—the water fountain.

As Philadelphia celebrates the 90th Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the world's largest high school regatta, Philadelphia Water will unveil a new network of four eye-catching public water stations located along Kelly Drive.

Cleaner Streets = Cleaner Rivers and Creeks

With more than 900 projects scattered across the city, this Saturday’s Philly Spring Cleanup was the largest ever—and that’s a pretty big deal considering this volunteer-driven event has already been praised as “America’s biggest single-day urban cleanup” for years now.

First held in 2007, Philly Spring Cleanup has grown into a movement that brings neighbors together by harnessing a passion for litter-free communities. From a watershed protection perspective, we love seeing that passion transformed into action because so much of the litter and trash collected from streets, parks and empty lots on Saturday would eventually wash into Philly’s rivers and creeks.

While the 2016 results haven’t been tallied yet, last year’s cleanup (featuring 718 projects) netted 836,100 pounds of trash, 104,260 pounds of tires and 107,580 pounds of recyclables—all stuff that could very well have ended up in our water.

First Schuylkill Scrub of 2016 Cashes in on Collaboration

A volunteer from Parks and Recreation gathers trash from the banks of the Schuylkill River at Bartram's Garden.
A volunteer from Parks and Recreation gathers trash from the banks of the Schuylkill River at Bartram's Garden. 

Tires, TVs, lots and lots of plastic bottles and ... a check for $32,000?

You never know what you’ll find when picking up trash along Philly’s rivers.

MLK Day of Service Will Help Philly Rivers. Here's How:

Dozens of bags of “floatable” trash pulled from the Delaware River during a 2015 volunteer cleanup. MLK Day of Service volunteers who participate in neighborhood trash removal will also be helping our rivers because cleaner streets = cleaner creeks and rivers. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Dozens of bags of “floatable” trash pulled from the Delaware River during a 2015 volunteer cleanup. MLK Day of Service volunteers who participate in neighborhood trash removal will also be helping our rivers because cleaner streets = cleaner creeks and rivers. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

As far as resumes go, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s is pretty hard to top.

A 200,000-person march on Washington that was crucial in helping to pass the Civil Rights Act? Check.

A year-long bus boycott that eventually led to a Supreme Court ruling declaring segregated buses unconstitutional? Check.

The list of Dr. King’s accomplishments is long, but one thing you don’t hear too much about is King the environmentalist. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t connections between his activism and the green movement that helped to bring us transformational legislation like the Clean Water Act.

Despite the fact his 1968 assassination predated the first Earth Day by two years, many credit MLK’s work as laying the foundation for the environmental justice movement—a movement guided by the belief that all people, no matter their race or income level, have an equal right to things like safe, clean drinking water and health-promoting green space.

No matter how you think of Dr. King’s legacy, the fact is, much of the work that will be done in his honor during the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service—an event being touted as the biggest MLK Day volunteer effort in the nation—will help our rivers.

How?

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