Sustainability

Like Philly’s New Water Stations? Help Us Do More

A jogger stops for a cool sip at the Art Museum drinking water station, one of four located along the Schuylkill. Philadelphia Water is looking for vendors with ideas that will bring more stations to neighborhoods across the City.
A woman stops to fill up at the Art Museum drinking water station, one of four located along the Schuylkill. Philadelphia Water is looking for vendors with ideas that will bring more stations to neighborhoods across the City.

This summer is coming to a close with some good news for the #DrinkTapPHL movement.

Plan Philly wrote a great story about our new drinking water stations along the Kelly Drive section of the Schuylkill River Trail, and we’ve been getting lots of great feedback from trail users and on social media. Now, we're looking for ways to bring similar stations to more neighborhoods across the city.

Q&A Shines Light on Philly's Green Infrastructure Story

Our very own fearless leader, Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, sat down with the chief editor of Water Online, Kevin Westerling, for an extensive Q&A that shines light our internationally recognized green solution to Philadelphia's stormwater challenges - Green City, Clean Waters. And, we have to say, it's a flattering and fascinating read. Titled "'Super' Advice From Philadelphia's Water Commissioner," Westerling opens his piece by saying "It's not often that you have the opportunity to talk to a 'superhero' of sustainability," and goes on to cite our favorite magazine cover ever:

(Grid Magazine, December 2013.)

Here's a quick excerpt from the Water Online story's introduction:

Nationally, Neukrug's work is lauded and emulated. Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters program is a model of stormwater management, and also a template for urban beautification and revitalization. In addition to receiving numerous accolades for water management and pollution prevention — Green City, Clean Waters was started in 2011 to reduce Philadelphia's combined sewer overflows (CSOs) — Neukrug was recently granted the 2015 Arbor Day Award for PWD’s greening of Philadelphia.

Click here to read on as they discus topics like how Green City, Clean Waters could be reproduced in other cities, increased investment in drinking water infrastructure and what we're doing to reduce water main breaks, climate change, funding for green tools, how green infrastructure fits into the bigger picture of maintaining traditional infrastructure, and how tools like our biogas power generation at a Water Pollution Control Plant can tie everything together.

Water Online describes their site as "the leading source of technical information and thought leadership for the drinking water and wastewater treatment community."

Philadelphia Water Makes ASCE's 'Game Changer' List

Game Changer: Our Biogas Cogeneration facility at the Northeast WPCP is changing the way people think about wastewater management. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Game Changer: Our Biogas Cogeneration facility at the Northeast WPCP in Port Richmond is changing the way people think about wastewater management. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

The American Society of Civil Engineers rolled out a cool new campaign last week to highlight infrastructure projects around the country that they see as “game changers”—investments that have the potential to change the way we live for the better.

Making their list of innovative infrastructure was our very own Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant, a high-tech facility that treats an average of 188.12 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Located in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood, the 150-acre Northeast WPCP facility is our biggest and oldest wastewater treatment plant. So why is ASME calling it a “game changer”?

The Northeast WPCP is home to our Biogas Cogeneration facility, a modern marvel that essentially turns a harmful human waste byproduct—methane gas— into enough energy to power about 85 percent of the plant’s operations.

In cruder terms: it’s power from poop.

This infrastructure investment has a number of benefits, not least of which is a reduced operating cost, which helps to keep rates low for our customers. Considering energy consumption is by far one of the biggest expenses in water treatment, creating that much energy for our biggest wastewater plant is a big deal.

From a more altruistic perspective, the Biogas Cogeneration facility also acts as a double-edge sword in fighting climate change; we’re keeping a powerful greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere while simultaneously reducing the need for fossil fuel-sourced electricity.
That makes the facility a win-win-win scenario.

The ASCE also lauds our biosolids recycling program and efforts to replace aging pipes and water mains:

"… they have increased investment in water pipes by 25 percent in their latest capital improvement program. However the Department’s Strategic Energy Plan also looks to better manage future expenses – it includes a facility that will extract energy from material typically thought of as waste. … Their ultimate goal for all of the wastewater treatment plants in the City is to be net zero energy consumption."

You can check out the full story and other innovation success stories at ASCEGameChangers.org.

Learn more about our sustainability initiatives here and get an overview of how the Biogas facility works here.

Good Economy Challenge to Candidates Features Green City, Clean Waters


The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) has stepped into the fray of this year’s city elections to offer up the “Good Economy Challenge” to all of the candidates for mayor and City Council. Highlighting the importance of a sustainable economy, they focus on five policy priorities: small business, procure local, solar homes, social enterprise and... Green City, Clean Waters! 

In a recent newsletter SBN wrote “Green City, Clean Waters is bringing many economic, environmental, and social benefits to the city, and is positioning Philadelphia as a national leader in urban stormwater management. Our next Mayor/Council Members should drive Green City, Clean Waters forward in a unified way, so that the program can continue to positively influence Philadelphia’s competitiveness, local and regional economy, environment, and quality of life.” (We're blushing over here!) And in their policy paper, SBN outlines three specific recommendations asking candidates to pledge their commitment to Green City, Clean Waters, to improve coordination across city departments to better support the program and to continue making Philadelphia a green infrastructure industry and innovation hub for the nation. You can check all of their recommendations here

Perhaps most importantly, SBN is hosting the Good Economy Candidates Forum, giving you a chance to hear directly from mayoral candidates on Saturday, April 25, 6:30-9pm. The forum takes place at Temple’s Fox School of Business, Alter Hall Auditorium, 1801 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, PA. You can register for the forum using this link

And they didn’t just stop at issuing the challenge and organizing a forum! To keep up the social pressure, SBN has provided all kinds of easy-to-use tools for people to spread the message of this challenge. They’ve provided suggested Twitter and Facebook language (we’re partial to this one) so YOU can be part of the effort to put these policies in front of the mayoral and council candidates—scroll to the bottom of this page here for more examples. 

We appreciate that SBN has been such a strong advocate for Green City, Clean Waters and included it in this challenge. If you agree that Green City, Clean Waters, and sustainable, local business is an important topic for our new leaders, then make sure you attend the Forum, spread the word and get involved!

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Aquaman!

Our Water Commissioner, Howard Neukrug, is featured on the cover of the latest edition of Grid Magazine as one of several superheroes of sustainability in Philadelphia.

Commisioner Neukrug started off in drinking water treatment at the Philadelphia Water Department in 1978 and began PWD’s Office of Watersheds in 1999. As director of the Office of Watersheds, Commissioner Neukrug led the department in creating the vision and the plan for Green City, Clean Waters, Philadelphia’s long term plan to clean up our waterways. Appointed Water Commissioner in 2011 by Mayor Nutter, Howard Neukrug is focused on making PWD a sustainable 21st Century urban water utility – one that fully meets the complex responsibilities and opportunities of our time and our environment.

Check out the full article in Grid to learn more about our Aquaman and our Philadelphia’s other sustainability heroes.

Syndicate content