stormwater

CHOP Gets Recognition for Leading with River-Protecting Green Design

When leadership at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia decided to create a brand-new, centralized facility for pediatric care, their primary concern was easing the stress young patients and their families often face while undergoing treatment.

Today, that vision is recognized at the 12-story Buerger Center, a colorful University City building that opened in 2015 with a playful, flowing façade that makes it feel like a distinct, long-cherished landmark.

Impressive features include a lush and winding 16,000 square foot roof garden and a ground-level plaza garden covering more than two acres. These spaces not only serve the mission of reducing stress for kids in treatment—they also reduce pollution in Philadelphia’s waterways.

By limiting the amount of stormwater runoff flowing into Philadelphia’s combined sewer system, where heavy storms can lead to overflows that harm local rivers like the Schuylkill, these green features are helping the City of Philadelphia in its drive to massively reduce this source of pollution in the coming years.

That attention to water quality protection and green design are what earned CHOP and the team behind the Buerger Center the 2017 Stormwater Pioneer award. Granted by the Philadelphia Water Department, the award recognizes forward-thinking stormwater management projects in the private sector.

Mayor Jim Kenney, Water Department Commissioner Debra McCarty and City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell will gather on the blooming 6th-floor roof garden with CHOP officials and the development team this Wednesday, July 26.

While the Buerger Center’s gardens are highly visible, much of the actual stormwater management takes place behind the scenes at the facility, which was designed to be LEED-Silver certified.

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: Three New Public Hearings on Discounted Stormwater Rate for Community Gardens Announced

Proposed changes to the current stormwater rates would provide discounts to community gardens that qualify under changes proposed by the City.
Changes to current stormwater rates would provide discounts to community gardens that qualify under regulations proposed by the City.

The first  public hearing on proposed stormwater rates changes for Philadelphia’s community gardens was held on Tuesday, October 25. Three additional hearings have been scheduled for the following dates:

Monday, November 14th, 2016
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 
Community Room at Villas Del CARIBE
167 W. Allegheny Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19140

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Conversation Hall, Room 201
City Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Friday, November 18th, 2016
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Fumo Branch of the Free Library
2437 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148

These presentations and hearings will be held to explain the proposed changes and gather input from residents. Transcripts  from the hearings will be available as part of the 2016 Rate Proceeding Hearing.

Read more about the hearings and how the changes would impact stormwater fees for gardens in the official Philadelphia Water Department announcement below:

Public Hearing: Give Input on Discounted Stormwater Rate for Community Gardens

Proposed changes to the current stormwater rates would provide discounts to community gardens that qualify under changes proposed by the City.
Changes to current stormwater rates would provide discounts to community gardens that qualify under regulations proposed by the City.

The first  public hearing on proposed stormwater rates changes for Philadelphia’s community gardens will take place on Tuesday, October 25:

PWD Presentation to Rate Board
And Public Input Hearing
Tuesday, October 25, 2016,
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
100 N. 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1495 

The presentation and hearing will be held to explain the proposed changes and gather input from residents. Three additional hearings will be scheduled in the near future and will be advertised in area newspapers, posted on the department’s website, on the Watersheds Blog and our Facebook page.  

Read more about the event and how the changes would impact stormwater fees for gardens in the official Philadelphia Water Department announcement below:

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.

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.

On Earth Day, Think About How a Water Utility Can Help Our Planet

Philadelphia Water works to protect our rivers and planet in a number of ways. Clockwise from top left: Solar panels at our Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant; a Green City, Clean Waters tree trench in East Falls; part of our Biogas Cogeneration system at the Northeast WPCP; Philadelphia Water volunteers at a March 2016 Bartram’s Garden cleanup that removed 12,927 pounds of trash from the Schuylkill River’s banks.
Philadelphia Water works to protect our rivers and planet in a number of ways. Clockwise from top left: Solar panels at our Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant; a Green City, Clean Waters tree trench in East Falls; part of our Biogas Cogeneration system; Philadelphia Water volunteers at a March 2016 Bartram’s Garden cleanup that removed 12,927 pounds of trash from the Schuylkill River’s banks.

While the Philadelphia Water Department’s core mission is to provide our 1.5 million customers with constant access to safe, clean drinking water, a big part of doing that job involves protecting and improving our local rivers and creeks.

After all, providing top quality drinking water is a lot easier when you take care of your source water.

That simple fact makes Philadelphia Water, in many ways, an environmental institution.

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.

Green City, Clean Waters Is About to Grow Up. We Want to Hear from You.

What should Philly’s green infrastructure to look like in 2021? Tell us here.
Clockwise from top left: A stormwater bumpout near the Daroff Samuel School in West Phila.; rain garden in East Kensington; stormwater basin at Kemble Park in North Phila.; stormwater tree trench on Washington Ave. in South Phila.; Credit: Philadelphia Water.

This June is a big one for Philadelphia Water.

Green City, Clean Waters—our revolutionary program to drastically reduce stormwater pollution and sewer overflows using green infrastructure—is turning five. That means we're going from proving that we can build green tools that work to building a green infrastructure network that operates on a much bigger scale.

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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