Schuylkill River

What’s Going on with Green City, Clean Waters in South Philly West of Broad?

Point Breeze residents attend a Rain Check workshop and learn about local Green City, Clean Waters projects on Aug. 24, 2016.
Point Breeze residents attend a Rain Check workshop and learn about local Green City, Clean Waters projects on Aug. 24, 2016.

Last night, we highlighted some of our local Green City, Clean Waters projects at a Rain Check workshop in Point Breeze. Residents were able to sign up for a free rain barrel or take steps to get reduced-cost green tools for their home, including downspout planters and rain-absorbing pavement.

Amanda Krakovitz, a member of the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) program who is working with Philadelphia Water to engage communities around Green City, Clean Waters investments, provided information about area projects designed to improve local streets and parks while managing stormwater runoff.

For those who missed the meeting but want to learn about some of the local Green City, Clean Waters projects proposed or in the works, we’re providing a quick look at our South Philly projects west of Broad Street below.
You can also register for upcoming Rain Check workshops here.

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.

Philly Fun Fish Fishing Fest and Coast Day: An Action-Packed Day on Our Waterfronts


The yellow line on the map above marks the area where the 2016 Philly Fun Fishing Fest will be held. Click for a larger image.

We've teamed up with a number of partners to make September 10 a truly special day for those looking to explore what Philly's rivers have to offer. If you've been hearing stories about the amazing comeback our local waterways are experiencing, this is your chance to grab the family and see it for yourself!

The Philly Fun Fishing Fest, sponsored by Philadelphia Water, Parks and Recreation, the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission and Schuylkill Banks, will be held at Schuylkill Banks on Saturday, September 10, 2016.

Rio vs. Philly: Our Water Quality Wins By a Mile

Schuylkill River boaters paddle the waters just below Flat Rock Dam. Issues with water quality in Rio de Janeiro, home of the 2016 Summer Olympics, have local water sport enthusiasts thinking about the value of clean water.
Schuylkill River boaters paddle the waters just below Flat Rock Dam. Issues with water quality in Rio de Janeiro, home of the 2016 Summer Olympics, have local water sport enthusiasts thinking about the value of clean water.

With all eyes on Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics, one big health concern right up there with the Zika virus is the water quality in rivers, bays and surf around Rio de Janeiro. While athletes no doubt would prefer to focus their attention on winning, the risk of getting violently ill from the very water they’ll compete in and on is a serious hurdle aquatic athletes will have to contend with this year.

Stories like this July 26 report from the New York Times offer an alarming glimpse of what happens when we fail to protect our waterways from pollution. Here’s what Olympians in sports like swimming and kayaking may (quite literally) get a taste of during the Rio games, according to the Times:

Recent tests by government and independent scientists revealed a veritable petri dish of pathogens in many of the city’s waters, from rotaviruses that can cause diarrhea and vomiting to drug-resistant “superbacteria” that can be fatal to people with weakened immune systems.

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.

Belmont Raw Water Basin Project: Helping to Bring You Top-Quality Water

Construction of the cofferdam at the Belmont Raw Water Basin. Inset: Resident Engineer Kam Patel.
Above: Construction of the cofferdam at the Belmont River Water Basin. Inset: Resident Engineer Kam Patel. Credit: Philadelphia Water

In the public imagination, drinking water infrastructure usually comes down to two things: the drinking water treatment plants, and water mains that deliver the finished product to your tap.

In reality, the infrastructure it takes to treat hundreds of millions of gallons of water per day and get that top-quality water to 1.5 million people is far more complex, involving a variety of facilities along the way.

During Infrastructure Week 2016, we’ve been looking at some important infrastructure projects—all of which are funded solely by your water bill—that might get overlooked.

One such project is the renovated Belmont Raw Water Basin, which is in its final stages after years of work.

To give you an idea of how long this basin has been helping to provide Philadelphia with drinking water from the Schuylkill River, consider that Theodore Roosevelt became president the year construction began.

Check out amazing historic photographs of the original construction site here:

Have a Sec? Help Make Our Freshwater Mussel Hatchery More Awesome!

Photo: Spencer Roberts of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary is shown holding an eastern elliptio mussel. Credit: PDE
Photo: Spencer Roberts of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary is shown holding an eastern elliptio mussel. Credit: PDE

Last summer, we broke the news about an exciting project that’s coming to our historic Fairmount Water Works museum and learning center this fall: an educational freshwater mussel hatchery that will shine new light on these secret river heroes.

As the project continues to develop, the Water Works and the artists helping to shape the space are hoping you can help by taking this short survey to tell us what you know (or don’t know) about freshwater mussels.

Will you take a few minutes to tell them what you know about freshwater mussels with this quick online survey? (Think of it as a fun quiz followed by some surprising facts about these amazing creatures!)

Artists: Help Us Highlight the Schuylkill River for Art in the Open 2016

Work by artist Sandy Sorlien in the South Garden fountain, AiO 2014 Family Day (Photo: Karen Jenkins)
Work by artist Sandy Sorlien in the South Garden fountain at AiO 2014's Family Day. Photo credit: Karen Jenkins.

This spring, the banks of the Schuylkill River will be buzzing with the creative work of artists selected for the sixth year of “Art in the Open,” or AiO, a three-day event that gives the public an intimate look at the processes behind art.

Our iconic Fairmount Water Works facility will act as the starting point for the AiO installations, which will populate the riverbanks moving south toward Bartram’s Garden.

Photos: Green City, Clean Waters Gets Cheers at Smith Celebration

Philadelphia Water joined other City partners and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin in breaking ground on a Smith Recreation Center makeover that includes extensive green stormwater infrastructure. Click to see photos from the event.

Philadelphia Water joined other City partners and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin in breaking ground on a Smith Recreation Center makeover that includes extensive green stormwater infrastructure. Click the image above to see more photos from the event.

You might think it’d be hard for green stormwater infrastructure to get much attention when you have a star NFL player (Connor Barwin) talking about fun things like a completely renovated recreation center and the new athletic fields and basketball courts coming to Smith Playground in South Philadelphia.

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