If you have not done so yet, I would highly recommend taking a tour of the Elkins Estate. We were lucky enough to take a tour of the estate last week with the Cheltenham EAC and found that the property is an oasis of rolling green hills and majestic architecture tucked into the northeast corner of the TTF Watershed.
The 42 acre property is also the headwaters for one of the unnamed tributaries to the Tookany Creek. The lush estate helps protect and clean the water of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford creek, making the Elkins Estate an important partner for TTF.
We look forward to working with the Estate in the future!
Today’s Fresh Air on National Public Radio features Charles Duhigg, a journalist working on the New York Times’ fascinating Toxic Waters series. In the interview, Duhigg notes that in some senses, the Times’ database of water polluters is more comprehensive than the EPA’s, because it includes raw data from all 50 states.
One of Duhigg’s recent articles explains that the EPA is vowing to work harder on enforcing water pollution laws. From the article:
The E.P.A. has come under scrutiny recently for not punishing tens of thousands of polluters over the last decade, and many of the lawmakers at the hearing on Thursday are longtime critics of the agency’s vigilance. In September, a New York Times investigation found that companies and other workplaces had violated the Clean Water Act more than 500,000 times in the last five years, but fewer than 3 percent of polluters had ever been fined or otherwise punished.
On Fresh Air, Duhigg explains there are many reasons why the EPA hasn’t effectively enforced water polluters, including lack of interest from voters, limited funding, effective lobbying from polluters and loopholes in the law. Later in the interview, he explains some of the concerns we’ve talked about associated with natural gas drilling. He also reminds listeners that “water really is a local issue.”
You can listen to the interview indefinitely here and read the Toxic Waters series here. The next article in the series will be about an issue near and dear to our hearts: the combined sewer overflow problem in older American cities!
According to the Delaware River Basin Commission, substantial efforts are being taken to protect water and environment from degradation during extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale deposits that span from West Virginia across Northwestern Pennsylvania and up into New York.
According to Carol Collier, Executive Director the DRBC, “We are looking to provide directional signs, not stops signs” in discussing the proposed drilling. But from our perspective, some projects deserve to be stopped!
The headwaters for the Delaware River is one of the areas likely to be significantly impacted by this project. The Delaware River serves nearly 15 million citizens in parts of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Hydrofracing, the process used to obtain natural gas, uses somewhere between three to five million gallons of water per well. About 40-60 percent of that water is reclaimed as wastewater and contains not only additives from the hydrofracing process, but heavy metals, dissolved solids and chemicals picked up from the layers of earth it has passed through. A satisfactory plan for treating this wastewater has not yet been developed. Where will this wastewater go except right back into our drinking water? We can’t stand for big business polluting OUR drinking water!
To read more about natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale deposits click here. To voice your opinion about the natural gas extraction, read our previous post on this topic.
Check out this article about our recent Model Neighborhood Van Tour in the Germantown Chronicle. Scroll down to “Innovative Water Management Techniques in NW.”
From the article:
It’s fall. The leaves are turning. It’s a perfect time for water resource tours.
At least that’s what the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford (TTF) Watershed Partnership and the Wissahickon Environmental Center figured on Sunday October 4, when they took residents around the Awbury and Cliveden neighborhoods of the Northwest to examine the innovative work being done to clean drinking water at its source – from the rain that falls out of the sky.
. . . Partly in response to pressure from groups like TTF, states and municipalities have been adopting stricter storm water maintenance laws and the ethic of helping Mother Nature clean her water and protect her streams is slowly gaining popularity.
You can click here for more information on our Model Neighborhood Van Tour. Thanks to everyone who came out to make that day such a success!
We were so thrilled to discover that the cover story of this month’s Grid magazine features TTF Board Member and friend, Fred Lewis. We’ve written about Fred’s wonderful work with the Senior Environment Corps at Center in the Park here before.
You can read the article online here or download the .pdf. Or, you can pick up a hard copy in person. You can find out where to find copies here.
From the article:
The group’s dedication to the environment is obvious to anyone who spends any time with the members. They are eager to give back to their community, a city where many have raised children and grandchildren, and worked lifetimes in public service and the private sector.
“It gives the volunteers a chance to feel they are doing something that is helpful to the community,” says Lewis. “Generally, when people retire, they look for things that will satisfy their interests. But with water monitoring, you get to do something for the community. It keeps you mentally and physically involved.”
Despite arthritis and two knee replacements, Lewis is more involved than ever with environmental causes. When the octogenarian’s not out in the field climbing up and down rocky river banks and trudging through rain and snow with his test tubes and ph strips, he’s active in almost a dozen other organizations and boards of directors including the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Wissahickon Watershed, Water Department Advisory Council, Retired Seniors Volunteer Program and the Delaware Estuary, to name just a few.
His energy is contagious. “We are always encouraging people to come join us,” he says. “The only real requirement is that they be over 55. We’ll teach them everything they need to know. All they have to do is care about the environment.”
Way to go, Fred and the Senior Environment Corps!
Also, make sure to check out the another water-related article in this issue of Grid, “High Water,” which explores the issue of pharmaceuticals in our drinking water.
On Tuesday evening, TTF staff attended a tour of PECO’s green roof. The event was hosted by PHS Young Friends, a group designed to connect adults under the age of 40 with a common interest in sustainability and greening in the Philadelphia region.
On the tour, we heard about PECO’s stance on sustainability, the various benefits of the new green roof and PECO’s partnership with the Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS).
As part of PECO’s commitment to sustainability, the company considers environmental impacts in the planning of all renovations or modifications to their physical structures. Therefore, when the roof of the PECO headquarters at 23rd and Market was in need of replacement, it was decided that installing a green roof was the environmentally responsible answer.
On the tour, we learned that Philadelphia gets approximately 41 inches of rain per year. One and a half million gallons of that rain fall on the roof of the PECO headquarters. The new green roof retains between 60 and 70 percent of that rain, depending on the season. This is a huge success in the efforts to alleviate Philadelphia’s stormwater problem.
The vegetation on the roof also lowers the temperature of the roof by 60 to 80 degrees in the summer, lessens heating and cooling costs of the building and provides habitat for a variety of birds and insects. Not only does the roof target many environmental issues it also provides a beautiful space to enjoy gorgeous views of our city. Check out these incredible pictures!
For more information about stormwater and green roofs listen to this great WHYY program with Howard Neukrug. According to Howard, Philadelphia second in the nation when it comes to green roofs, right behind Chicago.
PHS will continue to work with PECO to provide educational opportunities about PECO’s sustainability efforts. If you are interested in touring the roof, check back in the spring with PHS for tour dates.
Check out the trailer for the new documentary, Tapped, which casts a critical eye on the bottled water industry. The film begins with this depressing statement:
By the year 2030, two-thirds of the world will be lacking access to clean drinking water. This is a problem every single person will be dealing with regardless of where they live in the world.
If that doesn’t shake you up, just watch the trailer below and see the images of the huge amounts of plastic floating in the ocean.
There are currently no screenings listed for Philadelphia, but we’ll keep checking back and let you know if we find any. We’re also working on hosting our own screening and discussion. For now, you can view more clips on the Tapped website and read Beth Terry’s great summary of the film at her blog, Fake Plastic Fish.
The Model Neighborhoods program is the start of PWD’s $1.6 billion, 20-year effort to clean up its troubled combined sewer overflow system and bring it in line with federal EPA mandates by 2029. But it also represents a major foray into new territory for the city utility – managing storm water not just with pipes, but with strategically-placed greenery along streets throughout Philadelphia.
Using a grass-roots nomination process guided by local community partners, in this case the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford (TTF) Watershed Partnership, Inc., based at Awbury Arboretum, the Chew-Belfield Neighborhood Association, and the various block associations of this hilly region of the Northwest, PWD found the perfect block to begin with.
“The community picked the block, we didn’t pick the block,” said PWD Engineer Amy Leib. “But it wound up working well for us.”
On Sunday, October 4th, TTF and Fairmount Park were joined by a group of dedicated citizens looking to learn about Best Management Practices for Stormwater Solutions.
After a fun, interactive activity demonstrating how a watershed works, we all set off for a tour of local stormwater management projects.
Stop 1 was the Awbury Arboretum’s bioswale near the only daylighted portion of the Wingohocking Creek. The bioswale is a set of large troughs dug in the soil parallel to Washington Lane that is lined with deep-rooted, water loving plants. Dirty street runoff flows through specially designed stormdrains into these troughs, where it is absorbed and filtered by the plants and soil.
Next, we moved onto Cliveden Park. The park’s stormwater demonstration project is a bioswale/rain garden. Water moves through these stepped troughs with the dual purposes of preventing flooding in the valley below and cleansing the dirty street runoff. (See the picture below.)
The famous Ross Street was our next stop, where we discussed the plans for the new green street and brainstormed ways to expand this project and create more model neighborhoods and model neighbors throughout the city.
The next stop was at the Waterview Recreation Center, home to one of the few large porous pavement projects in the city. While we were there we watched water flow through the porous concrete sidewalk and disappeared into the infiltration pits beds below. We also checked out their flow-through planters and street tree trenches. (See the picture below.)
For our last stop we were back to Awbury Arboretum, where we modeled our lovely rain barrel and discussed various benefits and glitches you could encounter with your very own rain barrel.
The tour was a smashing success (complete with homemade apple butter and apple cider from Fairmount Park) and we are grateful to all that were in attendance!
For more information about this event, contact us.