By Nathan McWilliams, Philadelphia Stewardship Manager
TTF has been a City of Philadelphia’s Soak It Up (SIU) Adoption Program partner since 2017! This initiative was created by the Philadelphia Water Department to involve organizations in the adoption, maintenance, and education of the many GSI (Green Storm Water Infrastructure) sites within our communities.
GSI uses plants, soils, and other elements and practices to restore some of the natural processes required to manage water and create healthier urban environments.
Across the city, green infrastructure is a patchwork of natural areas that provide habitat, flood protection, cleaner air, and cleaner water. In our neighborhoods, stormwater management systems copy nature to soak up, clean, and store water.
TTF maintains two sites – one in Vernon Park in Northwest Philadelphia with partner the Friends of Vernon Park (home to the first rain garden we installed, back in 2011!) and the other on Cayuga Street in Juniata Park (home to 3 plant-based curb “bump-outs” and 1 rain garden).
Cayuga Street is also a Community Cans site! The Community Cans project brings awareness to the importance of keeping our streets and storm drains clean, for cleaner creeks and a cleaner Delaware River, our source of drinking water. By partnering with Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, the City’s Managing Directors Office, the Philadelphia Water Department and Clean PHL, we will installed 10 decorated, colorful trash cans along Cayuga Street to reduce litter.
Local artist Jay Coreano created the artistic design for the lids, with inspiration from the positive words that community members shared to describe their neighborhood. The community came together last fall for a community painting day, and the cans were installed in December. We work with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Streets Department, and the Juniata Golf Club to maintain these cans and ensure trash removal.
Our SIU caretakers regularly maintain the aesthetics and overall health of each site. We coordinate and assist caretakers with trash removal. We also notify Philly 311 about other issues (like illegal dumping) at these sites.
TTF provide hands-on and — in these times — online education on GSI, using our many restoration sites across our watershed as classrooms. We hope you will visit and experience these sites for yourself. You can also get involved by lending a hand with trash removal at our sites or in your neighborhood. It takes all of us working together to make the Soak It Up program and GSI a success!