Parks and Recreation

Explore Philly’s Water + Parks Love Story During 'Love Your Park Week'

Adam Levine talks about the history of Upper Roxborough Reservoir and how it became an urban park after serving residents for nearly a century. Credit: PWD
Adam Levine talks about the history of Upper Roxborough Reservoir and how it became an urban park after serving residents for nearly a century during a 2017 Love Your Park event. Credit: PWD

In Philadelphia, parks and water have a love story that is as long as it is rich.

The founders of our beloved Fairmount Park knew that preserving green, natural spaces is a great way to protect water quality in our rivers and creeks. 

Today, we are adding a new layer to that appreciation with Green City, Clean Waters - a program that adds more green to our communities as a way of soaking up stormwater runoff to help our sewer system run more efficiently and reduce overflows that can pollute waterways.

As we have in past years, Philadelphia Water Department staff are joining fellow park advocates for the spring edition of Love Your Park Week events across the city. Spanning May 12-20, Love Your Park is a biannual event that cleans, greens, and celebrates Philly’s parks. A “collaborative partnership among Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and the Park Friends Network,” the week is packed with cool ways to learn more about the green spaces that make our city great while giving back.   

Events with PWD

Join Us in Making Germantown's Bringhurst Park Greener


Bringhurst Park has been a community gathering space for decades. Now, the space is getting a revamp to add some green and protect our local waterways. Residents and park users are invited to join us for a talk on April exploring future designs.  

UPDATE: This meeting has been moved from the park to Germantown United CDC, 5320 Germantown Ave., due to high winds and possible rain. The meeting will kick off at 5:30 p.m. as planned. Please bring your ideas!

Thanks to our Green City, Clean Waters program, thousands of green tools like rain gardens and stormwater tree planters across the city soak up tens of millions of gallons of stormwater runoff each time we have a substantial storm.

Germantown is already home to a number of these projects, but many more green stormwater improvements are planned for the neighborhood in the coming years. Dozens of residents came out to learn about plans for these projects and provided input during our October 2017 open house at the Happy Hollow Recreation Center.

As part of ongoing efforts to involve residents in designing these planned green improvements, we are currently working with neighbors and others who use Bringhurst Park, located across the street from the John Wister Elementary School at Bringhurst and Wakefield, to revamp the space and add stormwater management features.

A meeting to discuss the project and collect feedback about possible improvements will be held at the park on Wednesday, April 4 at 5:30 p.m.

In the event of rain or other bad weather, we will meet at the Germantown United Community Development Corporation, located at 5320 Germantown Ave.

Sign up for the Philadelphia Water Department Germantown green projects email list here to be notified if the meeting is moved and to get alerts about other local projects and events.

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 -

Sneak Peek: Cobbs Creek Oral History Project + Virtual Walking Tour

Come to the Cobbs Creek Library on Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m. to learn about an oral history of the area.

Starting in 2015, the Philadelphia Water Department's Public Engagement team began recording conversations with members of the Cobbs Creek community.

The goal?

To better understand how people feel about Cobbs Creek—one of Philadelphia's seven major watersheds—and what they want to see for the neighborhood, the park, and the stream.

You can get a sneak peek of the project by visiting this site, and all are welcome to join us at an open house event being held at the Cobbs Creek branch of the Free Library on Monday, August 7 at 6:30 p.m.

In addition to a presentation about the oral history project, residents will get to explore a new virtual walking tour that uses a web-based "story map" to explore 17 new green stormwater tools coming to the Cobbs Creek Parkway. These systems will add new landscaping and amenities to the area while keeping millions of gallons of runoff and sewer overflow pollution out of the creek each year.

Refreshments will served: please RSVP here!

This event is being hosted by the Cobbs Creek Neighbors, a community group working to improve the neighborhood and enhance local green spaces, including the Darby-Cobbs Watershed.

Watershed Stewards PHL, a group of local high school students working with PWD and the Land Health Institute this summer to protect the Cobbs, will also be on hand to talk about their work so far.

So Many Ways to Keep Cool in Philadelphia. Opening Hydrants? Not One of Them

In Philadelphia, we’re lucky to have more pools and spray grounds per resident than any other city in the U.S.

Because we have all those great, free places to cool off, there’s no reason to open fire hydrants when the weather gets hot or risk swimming in our unpredictable rivers, where drowning is always a risk.

Opening hydrants can cause a number of dangerous situations:

  • A fire hydrant opened at full pressure can cause serious bodily harm, or even death, should a child, or an adult get pushed into oncoming traffic while playing in front of the hydrant
  • Illegally opening a hydrant can break the valves and make the hydrant useless when it’s needed most—during a fire on your block
  • The huge amount of water coming out of hydrants can flood local basements and cause problems with gas and electric lines
  • Operating hydrants the wrong way can break the water mains that are under your street when not properly turned on or off

If you see a hydrant open on your block, report it right away by calling our emergency hotline at 215 685 6300.

You can find a local pool operated by Parks and Recreation, or check out one of our local spraygrounds. The City is also hosting Swim Philly events right now—free fun activities like Aqua Yoga and Aqua Zumba at local pools. Check out the Swim Philly calendar.

Not a bathing suit person? Head to a local library and cool off while checking out the wide range of free resources the Free Library of Philadelphia provides for residents.

And, as always, take advantage of the clean, top-quality water available from your tap—at less than a half a penny per gallon, it’s the best way to stay hydrated when the temps soar.

So remember: hydrants are for fire, not fun.

For more tips about staying safe in the heat, check out this great guide from the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management.

Love Your Park: Celebrate the Green Spaces Protecting Your Water

From the very beginning, the Fairmount Park system has been an important tool for protecting Philadelphia’s rivers and streams, and to read the history of our park system is to read a story of city planners striving to create natural buffers to protect rivers and streams from industry and development.

Rather than evolving away from that original purpose, our parks are today actually becoming more and more important for protecting the city’s seven watersheds.

As Philadelphians gather for Love Your Park Week—a celebration of our green spaces involving more than 80 volunteer service days and 40-plus special events in parks across Philadelphia from May 13-21—many of them will be tending to Parks and Recreation facilities that now feature special green tools created through the Green City, Clean Waters program.

The Philadelphia Water Department’s partnership with Parks and Recreation has been essential in achieving the ambitious goals of Green City, Clean Waters: drastically reducing pollution from runoff and sewer overflows through the creation of green infrastructure systems that soak up water from storms while creating new green spaces in our neighborhoods.

In 2016, Philadelphia celebrated the program’s fifth year and the fact that we’re exceeding greening and water quality targets set back when PWD proposed the nation’s first large-scale green stormwater infrastructure program.

Without the robust support of Parks and Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and groups like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Trust for Public Land, that might not be the case.

History, Nature and Green Stormwater Tools: Tour this Roxborough Gem with Local Experts

Then and Now: The historic photo at top, taken is Oct. 15, 1897, shows workers lining the Upper Roxborogh Reservoir with brick. The lower Google Maps image shows the site today, outlined in yellow. Credit: Phillyh2o.org
Then and Now:
The historic photo at top, taken is Oct. 15, 1897, shows workers lining the Upper Roxborough Reservoir with brick. The lower Google Maps image shows the site today, outlined in yellow. Credit: Phillyh2o.org

Philadelphia Water Department historian Adam Levine and PWD staff members are hosting a walking tour of the long-ago retired Upper Roxborough Reservoir—a place whose past illuminates both the roots of its Northwest Philly neighborhood and the evolution of Philadelphia’s modern-day water infrastructure.

The tour takes place at the Upper Roxborough Reservoir, 601 Port Royal Ave., on May 17 and will last from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This event is being held as a part of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation’s Love Your Park Week 2017.

Please RSVP here.

Centennial Commons Ground Breaking: Green Upgrades to Protect Philly Waterways

This rendering of the Parkside Edge improvements shows the location of rain gardens that add landscaping to the area while managing stormwater from local streets and protecting the Schuylkill River. Credit: Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Studio|Bryan Hanes
This rendering of the Parkside Edge improvements shows the location of rain gardens that add landscaping to the area while managing stormwater from local streets and protecting the Schuylkill River. Credit: Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Studio|Bryan Hanes

The Philadelphia Water Department joined partners in kicking off major improvements coming to Fairmount Park’s Centennial District during a ground breaking ceremony on Thursday, April 20.

Representing the first phase of the Centennial Commons project—an ambitious plan connecting nearby Parkside residents to the area of West Fairmount Park that once hosted the famed Centennial Exhibition of 1876—the event took place at 41st Street and Parkside Avenue.

This initial phase of the project includes Green City, Clean Waters investments that will bring natural landscaping features to the upgraded park. Mostly managing stormwater from the streets of the adjacent Parkside neighborhood, the series of new rain gardens, featuring native plants, will keep millions of gallons of polluted water out of local waterways each year.

Paint Day at Smith Playground: Learn About Green Improvements and Send Connor Barwin a Message

Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD
Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD

While Philly is mourning the news that Eagles defensive end and super citizen Connor Barwin is headed to another team, his Make the World Better Foundation has pledged to continue its good work and is moving forward on projects the fan-favorite helped to fund.

One of those projects is the renovation of West Passyunk’s Smith Playground, a total overhaul being led by the community, Parks and Recreation, the nonprofit Urban Roots, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and SERVE Philadelphia.
Barwin helped raise $150,000 for the project and then matched that amount, just as he did when helping to fund improvements at the nearby Ralph Brooks Park in 2014.

Improvements at the 7.5-acre Smith Playground will include green upgrades that support the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters program and help to protect local waterways from stormwater pollution.
On top of getting new football and baseball fields, new green stormwater tools, and improvements for the rec center building and adjacent play spaces, this site will feature a Mural Arts installation by artists Kien Nguyen and Katie Yamasaki.

Get Your Gloves & Grabbers: Spring Watershed Cleanups Are Right Around the Corner!

Our first season of volunteer cleanups with local apparel company United By Blue was a huge success, and we’re excited to start another round this spring.

In 2016, nearly 1,000 volunteers joined PWD , United By Blue, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and other partners at 15 clean ups to remove nearly 33 tons of trash from waterfront green spaces like Bartram’s Garden and Penn Treaty Park.

Syndicate content