TTF tackles trash in our neighborhoods…and creeks

Julie Slavet
Jan 23, 2017

By Robin Irizarry, Philadelphia Watershed Coordinator

In 2012, TTF established the Trash Task Force to address trash and illegal dumping in our creeks. The Task Force includes representatives of key municipal agencies and other organizations. We coordinate these efforts as part of our Outreach and Education program in Tacony Creek Park (TCP) supported by the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD). As part of this work, Temple University leads a trash monitoring project in TCP T-04 outfall area near the intersection of Rising Sun and Adams Avenue.

We’d proud to share an update on the considerable progress we have made in our focus areas during the past few months.
Trash Cleanup
TTF has been working to remove trash from in and around Tacony Creek Park. Since July 2016, our Trail Ambassadors have collected 396 bags from along the trail and at the gateways of the park on their daily rounds. We have reported over 13 incidents of dumping to Philly311 using the mobile app and have been very impressed with the response time. We have also received assistance from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) operations staff and PWD’s Waterways Restoration Team in removing large items/debris.
Photo by Kelly O’Day
 In the coming year,  we will canvass homes around the park perimeter with information on how to use the Philly311 app, along with our regular watershed information materials. We hope to recruit at least one resident on every block to use the app to report dumping, so that piles of trash are addressed quickly and the chances of catching illegal dumpers increases.
We have hosted several community cleanups in the park, on Love Your Park Day, and with the Philly Wooden Boat Factory River Guides and United by Blue. The brand new park Friends group, the Tacony Creek Park Keepers, which TTF helped to establish, hosted their first park cleanup event of their own on October 1st and plan to host more cleanup events in the spring.
United By Blue Cleanup
In September, we received word that our grant application to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful for cameras intended to catch illegal dumping was accepted. In November, we installed cameras in Tacony Creek Park and have been monitoring these regularly.
Physical Prevention
TTF has identified locations along TCP that are routinely accessed illegally by vehicles. Vehicles are often driven into the park for the purpose of illegally dumping construction debris and other litter. These cars and trucks also pose a serious safety threat to park and trail users. We have drafted maps and a plan for the installation of more bollards and boulders to cut off these illegal entry points, and have begun conversations with PPR and our elected officials to have these measures installed as funding becomes available.
Cigarette butt receptacles
We will apply for Keep America Beautiful’s cigarette litter prevention program this coming year. We know, through the Temple study, that cigarette butts are the number one item littered in our study area, with the highest concentrations near the intersection of Rising Sun and Adams Avenues, as well as at some of the businesses along Rising Sun Avenue. TTF has reached out to some of those businesses to determine who might be willing to partner with us, since we will be looking for businesses to ‘adopt’ the receptacles and take on the maintenance as part of their own maintenance. We are pleased that Dunkin Donuts/Sunoco, Planet Fitness and Jerusalem Furniture have agreed to partner with us; we and are in conversations with other businesses as well. We are at our goal of submitting our application with at least 3 partners.
Storm Drain marking with the Wooden Boat Factory
Since July, we have coordinated the marking of 113 storm drains, including in the Rising Sun and Adams Avenues study area, Frankford around the Globe Dye Works and locations around Tacony Creek Park. The Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory has been a strong partner, with students helping to clean trash from storm drains and distribute literature to residents in the neighborhood while marking the drains. We map these marked storm drains using GIS. We look forward to using the new cellphone app being developed by PWD. We have also distributed storm drain markers to groups such as the Friends of Vernon Park, as well as individuals who have contacted us because they want to mark the storm drains in their own neighborhoods. When we do this, we ask that people provide a photo of a marked up map so that we can add these to our full watershed map.
 To learn more about the Trash Task Force, our clean-up efforts, and how you can help, contact

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