U School Students Get Their Feet Wet

Emilie Wetzel
Mar 21, 2017

Guest blog by Tatyana Gomez, TTF Intern


A few weeks ago, TTF went out to the Tacony Creek Park gateway at I Street and Ramona Avenue to meet with students from U School of Philadelphia.

We took a walk down to the creek where you could see the water flowing and a Combined Sewer Overflow pipe. Robin, Philadelphia Watershed Coordinator, talked about the history of how the city planners connected the pipes to the creek. We learned that it’s important to keep storm drains clean because they lead to streams that run through our parks and ultimately supply our drinking water. We also learned about the problems heavy rain storms can cause.

Much of Philadelphia has combined sewer systems, meaning household water and sewage combines with the water from storm drains on its way to the sewage treatment plant. When there are heavy rains, the system can’t handle the large influx of water, causing water and sewage to backup and flow out the emergency Combined Sewer Overflow pipe (CSO) which dumps directly into the creek. That means when we get a heavy rainfall in Philadelphia, sewage is going into our creeks! One solution we talked about was to install rain barrels that connect to the downspouts so that when it rains, the water can flow into the barrel instead of the storm drains. This not only lessens the chance of the combined sewer overflowing into the creek, but you can use the water collected in the rain barrel to wash your car, water your plants, or wash your gardening tools.

We continued our walk down the trail, and stopped at a different part of the creek. Doryán, Community Watershed Leader, talked to the students about the different insects that you might see that indicate if the water is good to use or drink. During our walk, we came upon many different birds, and even saw a hawk swipe a squirrel into a tree and eat it! We had a really nice time and I could see that everyone was excited to do a better job at keeping our drinking water clean. I learned a lot of information during our time at the creek today that I can pass on to others. I look forward to helping TTF with many other projects in the future!

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