green infrastructure

We’re Wild About ‘Wonders of Water’: Come See PWD at the Flower Show!

Over here at the Philadelphia Water Department, there’s no shortage of people who proudly wear the “water geek” badge, and we’ve also got more than a few proponents of all things green and growing.

So, you can imagine our delight after learning that the theme of the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show would be Wonders of Water.

After all, PWD has been a wonder of the water world from the beginning: our Fairmount Water Works drinking water plant—surrounded by famous gardens with fountains and sculpture—drew curious visitors like Charles Dickens and Mark Twain from around the globe in the 1800s.

Now that the show’s final weekend is upon us, we can say that Wonders of Water has more than lived up to our nerdiest H2O dreams and grandest go-green expectations.

Whether it’s the lush rainforest spilling over with waterfalls or the far-out landscape of giant cacti showcasing flowers that thrive with almost no water at all, each exhibit is an exquisite exploration of the liquid that makes all plant life on Earth possible.

We got so excited for this year’s water theme, we even created an exhibit for visitors to explore—Home Green Home.

It’s a slice of a Philadelphia block transplanted to the Convention Center floor to showcase all the ways in which a local home interacts with water, from a bright flower-filled stormwater bumpout on the curb to the hidden pipes bringing drinking water to the tap and taking used water away.

'Home Green Home' at The Philadelphia Flower Show

There’s lots of signage to provide inside info and each point of interest in the display has a tip to help you protect water, so be sure to stop by and say hello if you’re coming—as long as supplies last, we’ll have Coreopsis seed packets to encourage natural stormwater gardens at home.

PWD will also have iPads where you can share your thoughts about drinking water quality.

The show runs through Sunday, March 11 and is at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch Streets. PWD’s Home Green Home is located just to the right of the PHS Shop beyond the Grand Exhibit.

If you come in through the Marriot gates above the Jefferson Station entrance at 11th and Market, look for a fun cut-out prop where you can pose as Water Woman, PWD’s trash and pollution fighting hydration superhero.

More Water-Geek Goodies
Of course, Home Green Home is not the only cool place to learn about local water issues at the Philadelphia Flower Show: look for more great stuff like Window on the Watershed, a big installation created through the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative and the Alliance for Watershed Education.

At this exhibit, you’ll meet with members of local waterways groups like the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership and encounter “ecological lessons and stories of our own complex freshwater system—the Delaware River Watershed.”

There’s also Down the Drain, showcasing landscaping options—many of which you can get funding for through our Rain Check program—that you can use to manage stormwater and make your home more beautiful.

Be sure to check these out too:

The World’s Drinking Water by American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD)
This look at select countries that don’t have access to clean drinking water brings awareness to how precious clean drinking water is and how scarce access is for most people in the world. Countries are represented by intricate designs inspired by beautiful flowers.

Urbanization Meets Naturalization by Mercer County Community College Horticulture Program
In a world where our homes often encroach on nature, we need to find ways to make more sustainable choices. Whether we create more permeable surfaces, harvest and utilize rainwater, or make smarter plant choices, every action is a step towards building a more natural environment in an urban setting.

“…nary a drop to drink…” by U.S. EPA Region III
This exhibit has been designed to highlight the connection between watershed protection and our precious drinking water resources. In addition to instilling beauty, the conservation and enhancement of aquatic ecosystems in our own gardens promotes clean and healthy water, while serving as a sustainable landscaping practice.

sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty səˌstānəˈbilədē by W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences
sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty səˌstānəˈbilədē depicts an urban residence with a landscape that is beautiful as well as sustainable. Features of this landscape include the use of rainwater collected in downspouts and rain barrels for plant irrigation and fountain sculptures. Solar panels are incorporated into a green roof gazebo and many novel planters are made from recycled materials. Diverse plants are displayed in the many micro-environments of this landscape from its rain gardens and hydroponic planters to its exposed roof surface.

Would You Drink the Water? by Williamson College of the Trades in partnership with Stroud Water Research Center
The seniors in Williamson College of the Trades Horticulture Program and the scientists at the Stroud Water Research Center hope you are inspired by this exhibit and learn the importance of small streams in the environment.

In this exhibit, we display some of the best management practices for improving water and habitat quality in small streams, which is where pollutants typically enter the waterway.

Forest buffers on streambanks keep pollutants from entering streams and provide leaves as food and shade to keep streams cool. The exhibit shows how riparian buffers play a critical role in improving water quality, providing aquatic and wildlife habitats for many species.

Want to learn about all the green stormwater projects planned for Germantown?

Come to 4800 Wayne Ave. October 3rd between 6 and 830 PM to learn about green PWD projects coming to Germantown.
Do you want to know about upcoming green improvements coming to Germantown to help the neighborhood soak up excess stormwater that comes with rainstorms?

Stop by this Philadelphia Water Department open house event between 6-8:30 p.m. to learn about a number of green projects planned for your neighborhood:

What:
Germantown Green Upgrades Open House

Where:
Happy Hollow Rec Center
4800 Wayne Ave., Phila. Pa. 19144

When:
Tuesday, Oct. 3
Doors open at 6 p.m.
Event ends at 8:30 p.m.

Invite friends on Facebook!

Green tools like rain gardens, tree trenches and bumpouts are being designed for local streets and other spaces and will capture stormwater runoff coming down the streets in Germantown while adding new green spaces. Construction for these projects will start in approximately two years, and we'll be holding community meetings to provide updates and get input from neighbors. 

Please RSVP to help us provide enough refreshments.

Additional PWD staff will be there to answer questions about customer assistance programs like our new income-based billing, water bills, and educational and environmental programs from PWD and the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford (TTF) Watershed Partnership.

Questions? Contact Hailey Stern at Hailey.Stern@phila.gov 

Philly's Latest Green Schoolyard Project Breaks Ground in Fishtown

On Tuesday, February 21, the Philadelphia Water Department joined a broad group of partners, including Fishtown residents, parents, teachers and students from the Adaire School community, City departments, the School District of Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation and the nonprofit Trust for Public Land to break ground on Philadelphia’s latest green schoolyard project.

On hand were a number of public officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite, Council President Darrell Clarke and Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis.

If that list of names and organizations seems long, that’s because it is: to make projects like this a success, it takes an entire community and support from both the City and nonprofit institutions.

Nominations Wanted: 2017 'Excellence in GSI Awards'

Students and parents cut the ribbon at Lea Elementary in 2016 to celebrate the completion of a schoolyard featuring three rain gardens, nearly two dozen new trees and porous paving and play surfaces. Funded largely through a $242,000 SMIP grant from PWD, the project won the Public Project Award at the 2016 Excellence in GSI Awards ceremony. Credit: PWD
Students and parents cut the ribbon at Lea Elementary in 2016 to celebrate the completion of a schoolyard featuring three rain gardens, nearly two dozen new trees and porous paving and play surfaces. Funded largely through a $242,000 SMIP grant from PWD, the project won the Public Project Award at the 2016 Excellence in GSI Awards ceremony. Credit: PWD 

What projects and people are making an impact on green stormwater infrastructure in our region?

Last year saw the first-ever Excellence in GSI Awards, an effort by the Sustainable Business Network’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Partners to answer that question and highlight the best in local green stormwater projects and the people making them happen.

The Philadelphia Water Dept. was honored to have associations with to two of 2016’s five award winners: retired PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug took home the inaugural Leadership in GSI Award for his role in guiding the creation of the City’s 25-year Green City, Clean Waters program, and West Philadelphia’s Lea Elementary received the Public Project Award for green schoolyard renovations made with the help of a PWD Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) grant.

City Career Fair and Courses for Contractors Provide Job Opportunities

Are you looking for a new career? Know someone in Philly looking for a job?

This Friday, December 2, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., representatives from nearly two dozen municipal agencies (including PWD!) will be at the Community College of Philadelphia (17th and Spring Garden Street) to talk to you about current job opportunities with the City of Philadelphia Government.

The event is free and open to all, but registration is required. You can register at the door or here. More information about the event is available here.

Help us spread the word by sharing this information with your neighbors and friends!

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.

Get Wild about Watersheds, Urban Greening and West Philly Nature

Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly takes residents on a nature walk highlighting wildlife and green infrastructure around Papa Playground in West Philadelphia. Join Philadelphia Water and Wild West Philly for special nature walk on June 25. Photo Credit: Joe Piette
Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly takes residents on a nature walk highlighting wildlife and green infrastructure around Papa Playground in West Philadelphia. Join Philadelphia Water and Wild West Philly for special nature walk on June 25. Photo Credit: Joe Piette

Philadelphia Water is all about helping people understand the ways in which our lives and communities are intimately connected to the local waterways that sustain us.

We know—living in a big city like Philadelphia, it can be easy to forget that we’re still a part of a natural world that includes waterways like the Cobbs Creek and Delaware River. Luckily, we have lots of residents who care about nature and want to learn more.

That’s why we’re teaming up with Naturalist Interpreter Dan Kobza of Wild West Philly (one of our watershed partnership groups) for a special walk on Saturday, June 25 at the historic Mt. Moriah Cemetery, much of which has been reclaimed by nature. (RSVP for this free event here.)

SMIP: It's How We Empower People to Invest in Philly's Neighborhoods and Rivers

What are people saying about our Stormwater Pioneer? Watch this:

Last Tuesday, November 17th, Deputy Commissioner Chris Crockett joined Mayor Michael Nutter, City Councilmen Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla and local business and community leaders to celebrate Popi’s Italian Restaurant and co-owner Gina Rucci as Philadelphia’s 2015 Stormwater Pioneer.

Rucci successfully leveraged a $94,860 grant through Philadelphia Water’s Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) to create two rain gardens that reduced her stormwater bill by 60 percent while adding attractive landscaping to the restaurant parking lot.

Noting that the rain gardens have been a big hit with her customers and that they will help protect Philadelphia’s drinking water for future generations, Rucci urged other business to take advantage of the grant program.

Stormwater Pioneer: Business Makes Smart Move, Helps Our Rivers

Popi's co-owner Gina Ricci talks about why using a SMIP grant to build rain gardens in the restaurant parking lot was such a smart financial move. Credit: Philadelphia Water
Popi's co-owner Gina Rucci used a SMIP grant to build rain gardens in the restaurant parking lot, and says it was a smart financial move. Credit: Philadelphia Water

For the past 20 years, Popi’s Italian Restaurant has been a beloved fixture in its South Philadelphia community, building a stellar reputation for excellent cuisine in a family-friendly setting. Recently, co-owner Gina Rucci made a smart business move that we’re excited to celebrate. Rucci used over $94,000 from Philadelphia Water to improve her property and neighborhood, all while lowering her stormwater bill by 60 percent. That means the $5,000 investment she contributed will pay for itself in less than two years.

App Solution: Civic Hackers Create Mobile App for Green Infrastructure


Volunteers at Apps for Philly Sustainability use data provided by Philadelphia Water to work on the new Big Green App project. Credit: Matthew Fritch, Philadelphia Water.

By Matthew Fritch for the
Watersheds Blog


Last week, Philadelphia Water released a treasure trove of data in advance of Apps for Philly Sustainability, a three-day event that brought together sustainability professionals and technologists. Their mission? Conquer the city's problems with code. Armed with datasets and digital know-how, teams of students and tech professionals developed apps to help the homeless find resources, assist students with learning disabilities, and track individual energy consumption. (See more details on the various projects here.)

But the project we're most excited about is a Big Green App (hat tip to the Big Green Map).

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