Reimagining the Fairmount Water Works

Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center Design Charette

Last Friday, I was invited to participate in a sneak peek of the results of the a Design Charette at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center. I don’t know about the rest of you, but prior to this event, I sure didn’t know what a charette entailed. It’s a method of organizing ideas from experts of diverse backgrounds into something that is both constructive and creative. It’s a chance for artists, scientists, storytellers, educators, and others to allow their imaginations to run free. They can imagine the future possibilities and potential of the space.

The new design ideas are very exciting. Since the Schuylkill River literally runs through the FWWIC, they explored how to draw more attention to this waterway. A television played brief clips of the shimmering, ethereal light of the sun reflecting off of the Schuylkill and onto surfaces within the FWWIC. There was a station to play with the materials of the river. There were a ton of innovative ideas that I could go on about. But you should check them out for yourself!

This Thursday, November 15, visit the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center (640 Water Works Drive, Philadelphia, PA) from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. The results of the design charette will be on display. Get inspired, and share your own ideas!

Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center Design Charette
Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center Design Charette

And don’t forget to check out FWWIC’s Pollutionopolis installation while you’re there!
It’s one of my favorite parts of the Interpretive Center.

Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center's Pollutionopolis

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!

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.

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.