As we enter the 9th month of the COVID-19 restrictions, PEC’s water team staff continues to participate in programs across the Commonwealth, keeping our focus on initiatives which promote clean and healthy watersheds. During this time, many Pennsylvanians have discovered the recreation and scenic values of local waterways, creeks, and rivers for the first time, exploring their neighborhoods and broader community resources via visits to local parks, or walking/biking our region’s extensive trail networks. Through our partnership work we help strengthen community connection to these local waterways and highlight the multiple benefits of clean and healthy waterways to residents, businesses, and local elected officials. We have been fortunate to work with a wide variety of partners representing local watershed and conservation groups, municipalities, county and regional planning agencies, state and national conservation organizations, utilities, schools, and local businesses.
Throughout the summer and fall, PEC’s water team staff presented at regional and statewide professional conferences and workshops. Collaborating with our colleagues at American Rivers, PennFuture and University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center, we developed a municipal stormwater management finance workshop for the 8th annual Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed Forum in September. This session included a panel discussion with representatives of two Southeastern Pennsylvania municipalities: West Chester Borough and Whitpain Township.
Continuing our collaboration with these partner organizations, we also presented on stormwater fee programs at the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisor’s Virtual MS4 Great Ideas Conference in October.
For the Philadelphia Water Department, we are conducting research nationally on stormwater public participation best practices focusing on evaluation metrics to help us understand the effectiveness of outreach programs. Through this research we are developing recommended approaches that ensure that all voices and perspectives are considered when designing and implementing stormwater management outreach/public involvement programs. In addition to this work, we authored a series of educational articles on pollution prevention practices that were shared in local news outlets in Greater Philadelphia and we are thrilled to be working with Philadelphia schools on virtual watershed management presentations. PEC’s water staff supports Penn State Extensions’ Master Watershed Steward program, speaking at the Philadelphia County Fall training opening session and presenting on stormwater management later this year.
We continue to facilitate quarterly meetings of the Upstream Suburban Philadelphia Collaborative as part of the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI). Our partners include regional watershed, trail and land conservation organizations, and Temple and Villanova Universities. Through this initiative, we focus on capital and complementary strategies to encourage the use of green stormwater infrastructure to minimize water quality impacts from unmanaged stormwater. For more information please check out the DRWI website at https://4states1source.org/.
At a local level, PEC coordinated with Glen Foerd on the Delaware, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR), and the Riverfront North Partnership on a master shoreline planting plan. Funded by PA Department of Environmental Protections’ Coastal Zone Management and PECO Green Region grants, the master plan addresses 10 distinct areas along Poquessing Creek and the Delaware River on the Glen Foerd PPR property. Native tree, shrub, and meadow plant communities are delineated.
Our Water Team staff continues to adapt our watershed outreach/education and technical assistance programs for virtual learning, and we look forward to continuing this important work across the state in the coming months.