Exploring the West Coast: Water & Conservation

I kicked off my summer with a whirlwind roadtrip down the West Coast with my younger sister (who you may remember from this blog post) and our friend Dawn. It was a beautiful experience! Like true tourists, we were all snapping away photos the whole time. Today I’m highlighting some shots of water, water pollution, and conservation. If you want to learn more about protecting water, please visit our StormwaterPA project.

Sporting Life: All Eyes on Philly, When it Rains it Pours!

As leader of a non-profit with a major focus on water resource protection, I’ve got to admit, we kind of like when it rains. Believe me, I don’t love the fact that runoff wreaks havoc with our waterways, streets, and basements, but downpours do draw attention to the problems we human-folk have brought upon ourselves by altering the landscape. Once upon a time, nature did a great job of balancing the water cycle, but as we chopped, paved, and built our way into a life of impervious-ness, we generated a ton of stormwater runoff — which causes flooding, erosion, and pollutes our rivers and streams.

So, what’s the connection to sport? Last weekend, one of the nation’s biggest Bike races came to Philadelphia, and luckily for riders and the partygoing fans, the rains had left by race day. This week, the U.S. Open has come to our suburbs; attendees from far and wide have been pummeled by storms. And next weekend, the TriRock Philadelphia Triathlon takes place. The latter event involves a swim in the Schuylkill River, a biking segment in Fairmount Park, and is capped with a run. If we get any major rains leading up to or on race day itself, chances are good that the swim will be canceled because of high water and potential contamination. Oh, the event will likely go on, but in a drastically different form. (I’ll be racing as usual, and since I’m a mediocre swimmer, I’d benefit if the swim gets canceled. But I’d also be disappointed because I signed up for the challenge of the three discipline event…)

The point is that storms bring runoff and runoff disrupts our lives in myriad ways. The learning moment is that WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. People all around us are trying to minimize the impacts by getting this stormwater under control. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the inspiring story of Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program. Learn more by visiting StormwaterPA. And then Get into the Act by planting a tree, building a rain garden, installing a rain barrel, and sharing what you’ve just learned.

Green City, Clean Waters Promo from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

Another Philly First: 10,000 Square Foot Parking Lot Goes Green

You might accuse us of being obsessed with stormwater, but after last Friday night’s downpour and the resulting mess on our roads and waterways, is it any wonder? Amazingly, the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlons were held on Saturday and Sunday and the swim in the Schuylkill went off without a hitch.

We’d venture to say that the river was swimmable only because the buffer provided by the Fairmount Park system kept some of the polluted runoff at bay. The Philadelphia Water Department’s ambitious Green City, Clean Waters program seeks to emulate nature’s slow it down, soak it in methods — most recently with a parking lot which replaces ten thousand feet of pavement with rain gardens to manage stormwater on site.

There’s a ribbon cutting celebration planned for today, so if you’re in the Frankford area, go Check it out at the Eadom Street dedication.

Date; Friday, June 29
Time: 12 noon
Location: 5312-50 Eadom Street, Frankford

If you can’t make it today — or even if you can — there’s another celebration going on next week, this time in the City’s Bella Vista neighborhood, where the Mayor, residents, and other dignitaries (yes, everyone IS special in the City of Brotherly Love) will be dedicating the latest addition to Philly’s amazing constellation of parks.

Date: Thursday, July 5
Time: 10:30 am
Location: 12th & Catherine Streets, Bella Vista

GreenTreks documentary on Philly greening to air on WHYY Apr 26 & 29

If you’ve been following us for any period of time, you know we’re stoked to be a part of Philadelphia’s transformation from down on our luck wannabes to nation leading innovators — and yesterday’s landmark agreement between the City and US EPA reinforces the fact that there’s much more to come.

You also probably know we’ve been documenting the exciting efforts of the Philadelphia Water Department to change our cityscape into a vision of green. Besides the dozen short videos that can be found on our Green City, Clean Waters Vimeo channel, we’ve put together a 30 minute PBS special that encapsulates brings this game changing program to life.

We’re thrilled to announce it’ll be airing in a couple of weeks!

WHYY Airtimes

Download the flyer and pass it around.

Post it on your Facebook page, send it out on Twitter, Pin it, email it to friends.

And be sure to tune in and watch!

Soak it Up, Philly!

Unless you’ve been pulling a Rip van Winkle lately, you’ve heard it before: As part of its long-term commitment to improving the health of the City’s waterways, the Philadelphia Water Department is focusing a great deal of attention on a “greening” approach.

What you may not realize is just how many PWD “green infrastructure” projects are popping up all over the city. Or how they are having a truly transformative effect on the ‘hoods where they’re being put into place.


The first of a series of public events unveiling some of the projects (see Soak it Up, Philly) was held March 1 in Fishtown where Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources and Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Mike DiBerardinis, New Kensington Community Development Corporation President Sandy Salzman, and other dignitaries were on hand to celebrate the completion of Philadelphia’s first stormwater-friendly GREEN STREET.

A green street restores some of our urban landscape’s natural function by capturing rain or snowmelt (stormwater runoff) and allowing it to soak into the soil instead of flowing directly into the City’s sewer system. This not only helps reduce pollution and prevents flooding, it brings a host of other benefits to a neighborhood, including beautification, cleaner air, and a renewed sense of community pride.

The Waterview Recreation Center in the East Falls neighborhood uses the same kind of stormwater tree trenches that were used in Fishtown. This video explains more about why rainwater runoff is a problem and how these “green tools” work:

Keeping Water On Site: Waterview Recreation Center from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

For everything you ever wanted to know about runoff and what’s being done about it, visit StormwaterPA.org.

For more videos about Philly’s exciting Green City, Clean Waters program, check out our Vimeo Channel.

And be sure to follow PWD’s Blog.