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World Wildlife Day: Celebrate (and Protect) Philly Watersheds

A member of the PWD team took advantage of last month's warm spell to mark storm drains in his watershed. You can find your watershed critter and get a free kit too!
A member of the PWD team took advantage of last month's warm spell to mark storm drains in his watershed. You can find your watershed critter and get a free kit too!

Happy World Wildlife Day Philly!

We are celebrating Philadelphia's rivers and creekswhich are healthier today than they were even a generation agoand what that means for the incredible diversity of aquatic wildlife found within them.

The investments we're making in Philly neighborhoods through Green City, Clean Waters will make places like the Delaware River and Cobbs Creek even better, but here's a few ways you can help too:

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.

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?

‘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.

‘Refill Reuse Regatta’ Champions #DrinkTapPHL

Philadelphia Water and the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta are teaming up to reduce litter and advocate for public drinking water.
Philadelphia Water and the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta are teaming up to reduce litter and advocate for public drinking water. 

We are proud to support the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta (HOSR) again this year as they take the fight against wasteful single-use water bottles to the banks of the Schuylkill River.

The regatta’s organizers recognize the incredible value of our top-quality drinking water and want more people to choose reusable bottles, especially when using our waterfront parks. They’ll be making it easier for the estimated 40,000-50,000 spectators and competitors to do just that at this year’s race, to be held October 29-30 at the Grandstands along Kelly Drive.

They’re even giving the effort a name this year—the “Refill Reuse Regatta.”

Make Your Block Pop: Get Watershed Markers for Your Sidewalks!

Free markers and installation kits will be available for pickup next Tuesday at the Water Works
Free markers and installation kits will be available for pickup next Tuesday at the Water Works—just request a kit here!

Last year, Philadelphia Water crews cleaned over 100,000 storm drains in neighborhoods all over the city. While that number is impressive, we still need your help—and not just in the never-ending effort to keep storm drains clear of trash, leaves, snow and other debris.

We need help educating neighbors about how these easily overlooked pieces of infrastructure act as direct links to local watersheds. Not enough people know that what gets dumped on your street—be it litter, dog waste or used motor oil—also gets washed into your local waterways, and that can be bad news for water quality and the wildlife we're working hard to protect and restore.

To drive this neighborhood-to-nature connection home, we created new storm drain markers for each of Philly’s seven watersheds featuring seven different aquatic creatures native to local waterways. Read more about the markers here.

Interested in giving us a hand while adding a little color to your block, discovering your watershed’s aquatic creature and helping your community understand its role in the urban water cycle? Visit our storm drain marking page to locate your watershed and sign up for a free marking it.

In addition to being a cool thing to do for your neighborhood, storm drain marking can be a great educational volunteer activity for schools and community groups, and even works as a team-building project for your workplace!

To make getting your free kit easy, we will be offering a special pickup day at the Fairmount Water Works (600 Water Works Drive) on Tuesday, May 10 from 3-6 p.m.

We had nine groups mark drains for Philly Spring Cleanup in April, but with over 75,000 storm drains, we still have a long way to go! Order your kit here to get started!

Planting Day Crowns Project to Improve School with Green Infrastructure, SMIP Grant

Trees, permeable pavement and a rain garden all make the Lea schoolyard a better place for kids and Philadelphia’s waterways. Credit: West Philadelphia Coalition for Neighborhood Schools
Trees, permeable pavement and a rain garden all make the Lea schoolyard a better place for kids and Philadelphia’s waterways. Credit: WPCNS

Since 2012, Philadelphia Water has worked with members of the Lea Elementary School community and a number of partners to redesign their schoolyard and the surrounding area in a way that benefits the students, the neighborhood and our local waterways.

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?

Saturday: See GSI Being Made and Contribute to Art in Hestonville

Hestonville residents and representitives from Philadelphia Water break ground at 55th and Hunter streets. Volunteers will gather for a community paint day to begin a mural planned for the wall seen in the background. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Hestonville residents and representatives from Philadelphia Water break ground on a Green City, Clean Waters project at 55th and Hunter streets. Volunteers will gather for a community paint day to begin a mural planned for the wall seen in the background. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

This Saturday, volunteers will join Mural Arts, Philadelphia Water and members of the Hestonville neighborhood in West Philadelphia for a community paint day that will help artists Eurhi Jones and Michael Reali complete a new mural titled “Your Hands Shimmering on the Legs of Rain.”

Set for completion in spring 2016, the mural will overlook and highlight a Green City, Clean Waters project that will bring a rain garden and storage trench to a vacant lot at 55th and Hunter Streets. The mural was designed with input from neighbors who requested that art be included in the project during community meetings about plans for the site. "Your Hands Shimmering" is also part of the citywide Philly Water Art program, which uses creative works of public art to engage residents and connect them to green infrastructure projects that tend to blend into city streets or are hidden beneath the pavement.

Philadelphia Water Loves Our Parks

Some of the Green City, Clean Waters improvements at Dickinson Square Park. Credit: Philadelphia Water
Some of the Green City, Clean Waters improvements at Dickinson Square Park. Credit: Philadelphia Water

With the fall Love Your Park day of service upon us, we’ve been thinking about how much we love our parks and what the folks over at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation do every day to care for those spaces, making sure they are clean and safe.

Of course, with Fairmount Park’s historic role (in part) as a natural preserve designed to protect the city’s source water, you could say we’ve been a fan of Philly’s parks right from the beginning.

Today, Parks and Recreation is a vital partner in our Green City, Clean Waters program.

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