Parks and Recreation

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.

Thursday: Celebrate Improvements at Conestoga Playground

Room for Growth at 53rd and Media is a Mural Arts project heralding more improvements, including green infrastructure that will keep 32.5 million gallons of stormwater pollution out of the Schuylkill each year, coming to the site.
Mural Art’s “Room for Growth” project at the Conestoga Rec Center. Credit: Mural Arts

You’re invited to celebrate big improvements at the Conestoga Community Playground, located at 53rd and Media streets in the Hestonville neighborhood.

Join Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Mural Arts and the Trust for Public Land’s Parks for People Philadelphia team at 3:30 p.m. on December 8 as we mark this special occasion at the playground.

Kelly Drive Water Stations Head to Hibernation After a Thirsty Season

Schuylkill River Trail users fill up at one four water stations located along Kelly Drive. People filling up at the stations saved about 141,650 single-use half-liter disposable bottles this season. Credit: PWD
Schuylkill River Trail users fill up at one four water stations located along Kelly Drive. People filling up at the stations saved about 156,025 single-use half-liter disposable bottles this season. Credit: PWD

Following an enthusiastic welcome in spring and a summer of heavy use, we’ve winterized the four new water stations installed along the Kelly Drive stretch of the Schuylkill River Trail.

Shutting the stations down as we approach winter involves turning off the water, draining the lines, and giving each of the units a good cleaning. We know: it’s sad to see these amazing assets for trail users go into hibernation, but it’s a necessary precaution needed to make sure that extreme cold doesn’t lead to frozen and burst pipes during the colder months of the year.

‘Love Your Park’ Event Aims for Community Building Around Green Infrastructure Projects

In this post, Amanda Krakovitz, a recent Penn State grad now working with the Philadelphia Water Dept. through the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and SERVE Philadelphia program, talks about an event she helped plan to build community engagement around Green City, Clean Waters projects in South Philly.

Amanda Krakovitz helps provide information about the Green City, Clean Waters program and upcoming projects.
VISTA Amanda Krakovitz helps provide information about the Green City, Clean Waters program and upcoming projects.

By: Amanda Krakovitz,
SERVE Philadelphia Water Ambassador

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the Friends of Mifflin Square are teaming up this year on November 12 for Love Your Park Day, a city-wide volunteer effort dedicated to cleaning up our parks that’s organized by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy.

PWD and the Friends group are taking the lead on the clean-up of Weinberg Park, located at 6th and Jackson Streets, just a block from Mifflin Square. Volunteers will meet at noon and help pick up trash, paint benches with Mural Arts and learn about upcoming green infrastructure projects in the park. There will be a rain drop building activity for kids and drinks and snacks for everyone.

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