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

Greening at School: a Learning Tool for Students, Community

From US EPA Region 3 Press Office

(PHILADELPHIA – April 26, 2012) A $200,000 grant announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will help fund projects to make South Philadelphia’s George W. Nebinger School and surrounding streets greener and healthier.

EPA’s grant, with matching funding from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the nonprofit Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE), brings the total award to $400,000 that will go towards a host of green features at Nebinger School and the adjacent neighborhood. The projects are part of the city’s wide-ranging plan, Green City, Clean Waters, to control pollutant-laden stormwater that inundates the city’s sewer system and causes sewage overflows into area waterways. EPA and the City of Philadelphia signed a partnership agreement earlier this month to help ensure the success of the city’s plan. Continued below >>

For a look at what the Albert M. Greenfield in Center City has done as part of its Greening Greenfield Initiative, check out this video:

Green Schools: Albert Greenfield Elementary from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

“This grant will help the city realize the environmental, economic and community benefits of the Green City, Clean Waters plan,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “In controlling stormwater runoff, we’ll also be helping students appreciate ways of preventing pollution and creating cost-effective, high-performance green streets adjacent to the school.”

In addition to the benefits for Philadelphia, controlling stormwater runoff is critical for reducing pollution to the Delaware River and Bay – the focus of joint efforts by PDE, EPA, and PWD as part of the National Estuary Program. All three are now teaming up with the School District of Philadelphia to develop what is intended as a national and international model for stormwater management and educational programming at the Nebinger School. The school is located at 6th and Carpenter Street in South Philadelphia.

Efforts at the Nebinger School will focus on using green stormwater infrastructure as a classroom, field and laboratory tool, and demonstration opportunity for students and the community. The green tools that may be integrated into the design of the school yard include rain gardens, porous play surfaces and pavement, and stormwater planters. These features will help manage stormwater runoff from the school yard and select adjacent streets.

Several streets close to the Nebinger School have been chosen as potential Green Street projects based on critical connections they create between significant neighborhood amenities and businesses, such as the Weccacoe Playground and the business corridor on Passyunk Avenue between 6th and 10th streets, which is part of the Passyunk Business Improvement District. Green tools that may be integrated into these Green Streets include stormwater trees and tree trenches.

Officials said the project may provide an opportunity for Philadelphia students to collaborate with similar schools in the City of Rio de Janeiro, Philadelphia’s sister city in stormwater management. This collaboration is an extension of the Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JUIS), a partnership among the U.S. EPA, Brazil’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the City of Rio de Janeiro, and the City of Philadelphia, which was formed to advance sustainable cities.

For more information on the Green City, Clean Waters plan and the EPA-city partnership, visit PWD’s website >>

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!

Kensington Green Street Unveiled

As noted in this post, City officials, community partners, and the Philadelphia Water Department celebrated the completion of the first in a series of stormwater-friendly GREEN STREETS last week. We were there to capture all the action and created a video snapshot featuring Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Deputy Mayor Mike DiBerardinis, New Kensington CDC Director Sandy Salzman, and some local residents.

Check it out — and visit Soak it Up, Philly! for a complete schedule of upcoming events.

Kensington Green Street from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.