Category Archives: General

Historic Wingohocking Watershed Flooding and Combined Sewer Overflow Zoom Talks: Sept 16 & Oct. 14th

Talk had to be rescheduled. See updated talk on May 26, 2021

Philadelphia’s historic Wingohocking Watershed is a large area in Northwest Philadelphia that extends roughly from Gowen St in the north to I St in the South and from Wolston Ave on the east to Germantown Ave on the west. The Creek was encased in combined sewers in the late 1800s, early 1900s to help solve gross water pollution caused by 1,000’s of homes, farms and businesses discharging raw sewage and wastewater into the local creek and its tributaries.  The combined stormwater and wastewater sewers, large for their construction period, have proven to be too small by today’s standards.

In the 1920 – 30s, Logan area businesses and homeowners threated a tax revolt if something wasn’t done about the chronic flooding in the Logan area. The City responded by increasing capacity for the lower portion of the Wingohocking Watershed; unfortunately the Germantown – E Mt Airy – Ogontz area sewer capacities were not increased, resulting in our upper watershed flash flooding problems.

The City expended substantial capital costs to build the combined sewers. After spending these large sums of money, the City encouraged development in the area, including on the historic flood plains of the Wingohocking Creek. In fact, Belfield Ave and Sprague Street were built right over the former Wingohocking Creek. Today’s flash flooding is the natural flooding of the Creek during major rainstorms.

The Wingohocking watershed is the City’s largest combined sewer area, with annual discharges of 1.5 billion gallons of combined sewage to the Frankford Creek at the I St and Ramona Ave outfall, called T14 by the Water Department.

How will the City solve our flooding and combined sewage overflow problems? The City and the Germantown – E Mt Airy and Ogontz neighborhoods are at a critical juncture point where we need to adopt plans to resolve both the flash flooding and the combined sewer overflow problems. We need to learn from past Wingohocking mistakes and make sure that our decisions do not just repeat the mistakes of the past.

As a retired environmental engineer, I have been studying my watershed for years. Please join me for 2 more talks on the Wingohocking Watershed flooding and combined sewer problems and learn about available options to address both issues, either separately or in a joint – integrative approach. My goal is to inform my Germantown – E Mt Airy – Ogontz neighbors of our water problems and help all of us to understand the options we and the City have to solve them.

The Sept. 16 and October 14th (7:oo – 8:00 PM) ZOOM talks will give you the facts and information you need to understand our water challenges and opportunities and to be prepared to add your voice as the City prepares to decide the future of our watershed.

Chew & E Washington Lane Flooding – August 4, 2020

Tropical storm Isaias dropped 4.5 inches on Germantown – E Mt Airy on August 4th, causing flooding in lower areas. this video shows the situation at Chew & E Washington Lane.

Chew & E Washington Lane

The 2nd and 3rd videos shows flooding of the E Washington Lane underpass for the SEPTA R7 line.

E Washington Lane Underpass to SEPTA R7 Line
E Washington Lane Underpass to SEPTA R7 Line

E Mt Pleasant Ave & Sprague St Flooding – July 24, 2020

For the 2nd Friday in July, there was flooding in the historic Wingohocking Creek Watershed, this time at E Mt Pleasant Ave and Sprague St. The previous July 2020 flood occured at Belfield and Church on July 10th (link).

Here is a short video that shows the flooding between the SEPTA bridge and Devon St.

This flooding was caused by the blocked stormwater inlet shown in this picture.

The July 11th Belfield and Church flooding (link), on the other hand, was caused by too much stormwater runoff overwhelming the sewers in that area.

The July 24 rainfall for Philadelphia is shown in this map which shows that our area got 1.5 – 2 inches and parts of Germantown got 2.5 – 3 inches.

As our global climate warms, we are seeing more intense rain storms. The July 10 and July 24 storms are an example of what we can expect. Please let me know if you see historic Wingohocking Watershed flooded intersections, railroad underpasses of other flooding so that we can log and document them to make sure that the City is aware and taking steps to both clear our inlets and increase our combined sewer capacity to reduce future flooding.

If you live near on of PWD’s 24 flood prone intersections (link) please be sure to get homeowners – renters insurance.

Philadelphia Rainfall From Tropical Storm Fay.

Tropical Storm Fay (link1, link2) passed through Philadelphia on July 10, 2020. This storm dumped 2 – 4 inches of rain on the Philadelphia area from about 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Friday, July 10th.

This plot shows NOAA’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Centers (AHPC) precipitation map for Philadelphia as of 8:AM on July 11, 2020.

The map shows the historic Wingohocking Creek Watershed which covers a major portion of NW Philadelphia. You can see that the Wingohocking Watershed received anywhere from 2.5 to 4 inches of rain over this storm.

This storm caused significant flooding at Belfield and Church. A local resident captured the video of the flooded intersection and posted it on Facebook at this link.

Pennylvania Derecho

E Mt Aairy – Germantown – Ogontz Flood Prone Intersections

Here is a more detailed map of the 24 flood prone intersections. Right click image to see larger view in new window.

Here is the list of the 24 intersections identified by PWD.

This link gives you a PDF file of PWD’s Task 6 report.


COVID-19 Update: 3/21/20


The US and Spain’s COVID-19 confirmed cases since the 100th case are now higher than Italy was on the same day since their 100th case.

South Korea has bent their curve while Italy has not. The US and Spain seem to be following Italy’s trajectory, not South Korea’s trajectory.


Philadelphia’s Flooding Challenge


Historic Wingohocking Creek Watershed Talk

I will be giving on January 29th, 7:00 PM at Lovett Library. Flash flooding has been a problem in E Mt Airy and Germantown with Haines and Belfield as the epicenter.


My talk is the 2nd in a 4 part series about Historic Mt Airy (link). I’d like to invite you and your associates to this talk on the history of the Wingohocking, why it was converted to a combined sewer, the resulting reshaping of the watershed’s landscape which allowed extensive development which then lead to our current flash flooding problems.

I am hoping to develop support for a Wingohocking Watershed Zoning Overlay that would require impervious land cover restrictions comparable to those now required in the Wissahickon Watershed Overlay.

You can view my talk slides here.

Historic Sedgwick Farms


Download Full size PDF available here.