Tag Archives: Philadelphia Water Department

Delaware River Cleanup – 32,832 pounds

Living Lands & Waters,  Philadelphia Water Department,  Partnership for Delaware Estuary and over 230 volunteers collected 16+ tons of trash along the Delaware in 20 cleanups from August 20 to September 2 (link)

Photo shows volunteers headin g out to one of the cleanup sites. Click the  image to see Flickr photos from the cleanups.

Living_Lands_Water

Great job, thanks to all who participated and organized this effort.

Phila CSO’s Hurt Tacony Frankford More Than Other Receiving Waters

The Tookany-Tacony-Frankford Creek has proportionately more CSO discharges  than any other City receiving water.  This recent Philadelphia CSOCast map snapshot hows that 6 CSOs overflowed to the small TTF Creek in the prevous 24 hours compared to 6 each for the much larger Delaware and  Schuylkill Rivers and 4 to the small Cobbs-Darby Creek.

2014-08-02_13-16-55

 

Philadelphia is dumping excessive stormwater trash to the small, challenged TTF and Cobbs-Darby creeks.

Rainfall Intensity and Philadelphia Creek Trash Loads

Philadelphia is not the only metropolitan area with creek trash problems, the Anacostia River in Maryland and Washington DC also has a serious creek trash problem.

The Anacostia Watershed Society and the DC Department of the Environment have conducted a number of studies of creek trash, including a very interesting study of the Nash Run (link).

image004The project investigator, Masaya Maeda, measured the trash collected in a custom built trash trap each month between March, 2009 and September, 2010. He found an interesting relationship between the hours per month of intense rainfall (>= 0.3 inches/hr) and quantity of trash captured by the trap.

This chart summarizes the Nash Run trash data,  hours of 0.3 or more  inches per hour precipitation in each month versus the quantity of trash collected.

image001

Take a close look at the Aug, 2010 data point, it looks like an outlier. It turns out that there was a 0.5 inches/hour, a pretty intense storm that partially explains the specific situation in that month.

As Maeda reports “.. it is observed that the rainfall intensity larger than 0.3 inches/hour may be a tipping point to carry trash pieces into a nearby stream.” (pg 5- 7)

This Anacostia Watershed Society observation may be an important factor in Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters Program (GC,CW).  The GC,CW program is focused on the frequent 1 inch or less storm events. This may not be helpful in controlling trash carried to Philadelphia creeks during the high intensity storms  that may be carrying most  street litter to Philadelphia creeks.

Here is a plot of the number of hours per year between 1950 to 2013  when the rainfall rate was greater than or equal to 0.3 inches/hour at Philadelphia International Airport.

Hr_precip_3_tenths_in_per_hr_trend

The number of hours of rain  intensity >= 0.3 inches per hour ranges from a low of 7 to a high of 49 hours per year. If we look at the trend for intensities over 1 inch per hour, there seems to be a rising trend.

hr_precip_1_in_per_hr_trend

PWD has not conducted this type of detailed trash load by rainfall event study so we don’t have comparable rainfall intensity – trash load data for Philadelphia. We do know that we have significant trash loads in the Tookany Tacony Creek and we can see that the frequency of very  intense rain storms ( >= 1 inch per hour) is increasing. We clearly need  a street litter – creek trash study like those conducted by the Washington DC and the Anacostia Watershed Society to understand and address Philadelphia’s creek trash problem.

Litter Control Must Be First Step in Green Stormwater Infrastructure

This photo of creek trash in Cheltenham’s Rock Creek, a small tributary to the Tookany – Tacony Creek, shows why we need to do a better job controlling street litter.

Photo by Kelly O'Day

This photo was taken on 12/28/13 along Rock Creek, just downstream of Ogontz Ave (Route 309). The structure in the upper left of the photo is the conduit under Ogontz Ave. Philadelphia’s T-01 combined sewer outfall discharges into this conduit.

The plastic bags and other creek trash litter is from Philadelphia street litter and Cheltenham shopping parking lot litter carried to Rock Creek by stormwater runoff through storm sewers and by overland flow.

You can see a dynamic photo survey of Rock Creek at this link.

Documenting Tookany – Tacony Creek Trash

1st, Best wishes for a happy and litter free 2014!
 

2nd, there is a new tool to help document the creek trash conditions in the Tookany – Tacony Creek, Photosynth 2 from Microsoft.

I’ve  developed a series of photo trash surveys of Rock Creek using this new software. Please take a look, I think you will be surprised how well the creek trash shows up in the 3D like images.

Rock Creek is a beautiful creek so I have included some “nice” segments along with the litter filled segments.

  • Good – Rock Creek by Washington Lane: link
  • Bad – Cheltenham storm sewer outfall:link
  • Ugly – Rock Creek downstream of PWD’s T-01 outfall, behind Cheltenham Mall: link

You can control Photosynth  by clicking the icon in lower right of screen: to stop – start movement. Photosynth_1

Once you have stopped image movement, you can manually advance through images by holding mouse left button down and moving mouse up or down to move through the scene. You can zoom and pan on a specific location by using the scroll wheel on your mouse.

Here is a image of trash build-up just downstream of PWD’s T-01 outfall.

T_01

I plan to document all creek trash hotspots with Photosynth in the next few months. It turns out that winter is the best time to photograph creek trash because most vegetation has died back, exposing the trash.

Photosynth 2.0: New Tool to Photo Document Stormwater Trash in Small Streams & Creeks

Microsoft has released a new version of Photosynth that significantly improves photo documentation of creek trash.  I took my digital camera to Rock Creek, a small tributary of the Tookany – Tacony Creek to see how if Photosynth can be used to document creek trash in small creeks. The answer is YES!.

Here are links to several Rock Creek Photosynths that show the power of this tool in documenting creek conditions.

  • Rock Creek just upstream of Washington Lane Bridge (link)
  • Icicles Along Rock Creek (link)
  • Rock Creek Trash Tour Below MH2 (link)
  • Trash Tour below Cheltenham Storm Sewer Outfall (link)
  • Rock Creek Trash Tour Below PWD’s CSO T-01 (link)

Photosynth’s Walk mode lets you “glide” from photo to photo along the creek as if you were flying.  You can stop the auto advance and move forward – reverse at your own pace.You can zoom  and pan to see the creek litter or others of interest.  This tool takes litter photography to a whole new level.

Rock Creek Below PWD’s T-01 Outfall by KellyOday on Photosynth

Example of Rock Creek Trash Captured in 3D with Photosynth
T_01

Why is Tacony Creek Trash Worse than Wissahickon and Pennypack?

What is it about the Tookany – Tacony Creek that causes the creek litter in the Tacony to be so much worse than it is in the Wissahickon or Pennypack Creeks? Excessive street litter by Philadelphia residents, inadequate street cleaning by the Streets Department, inadequate floatables control by PWD are similar through out the entire City. 

PWD’s Tookany – Tacony Creek Sewer System Configuration

The way PWD’s Tookany – Tacony Creek sewer system is configured causes large quantities of littered stormwater to be discharged at just a few outfalls along the Creek rather than many points along the tributaries to the Creek. This stormwater consolidation to just a few outfalls causes an excessive litter load to be dumped at a few points. The result is an unsanitary, unsightly situation that is unfair to the Tookany – Tacony Creek neighbors who happen to live near the PWD outfall or visit the Tacony Creek Park in the Friends Hospital area.

Let’s take a look at the location of PWD’s Tookany – Tacony Creek outfalls and the results of my creek trash photo surveys in the map below:

(Click image to enlarge)
Slide1

There is a relationship between the PWD outfalls and the Tookany – Tacony Creek segments with excessive creek trash conditions, with 3 segments having the worst conditions:

  1. Rock Creek below PWD’s T-01 CSO
  2. Mill Run below PWD’s T-088-01 MS4 outfall
  3. Tacony Creek from Roosevelt Blvd to Friends Hospital – below PWD’s T-08 CSO

Let’s take a look at the drainage areas for the 3 outfalls (T-01, T-088-01, T-08) with the worst downstream creek trash condition:

(Click image to enlarge)

Tacony_vulnerable_outfalls

T-01′s drainage area is approximately 260 acres discharging into the very  small Rock Creek at  one point just south of Route 309 (Ogontz Ave).

T-088-01′s drainage area is approximately 450 acres discharging into the very  small Mill Run creek at one point, just east Cheltenham Ave

T-08′s drainage area is approximately 1,950 acres discharging into Tacony Creek, just north of Roosevelt Blvd. While the Tacony Creek is larger than the Rock Creek and Mill Run segments, the discharge of littered PWD stormwater from such a large area is a major cause of the creek trash problem visible from Roosevelt Blvd to Friends Hospital.

The configuration of PWD’s  sewer system contributes to the Tookany – Tacony Creek Trash problem because it carries littered stormwater flow from large areas to single points discharges along the Creek where the litter is caught along the rough banks and vegetation.

PWD’s Green City, Clean Water’s program will help but will not completely solve the Tacony Creek trash problem. Tookany – Tacony Creek residents and Tacony Creek Park visitors need a Tookany – Tacony Creek Trash Plan tailored to the specific issues in Tookany – Tacony Creek.

Image

How I Determined That PWD Outfalls Are Major TTF Creek Trash Source

One year investigation  in one chart….
How_to

You can find complete documentation on my learning curve here.

Why Does Tookany – Tacony Creek Have So Much Litter?

What is it about the Tookany – Tacony Creek that causes the Creek litter in the Tacony to be so much worse than it is in the Wissahickon or  Pennypack Creeks? Excessive street litter by Philadelphia residents, inadequate street cleaning by the Streets Department, inadequate floatables control by PWD are similar through out Philadelphia. 

PWD’s Tookany – Tacony Creek Sewer System Configuration

The way PWD’s Tookany – Tacony Creek sewer system is configured causes large quantities of littered stormwater to be discharged at just a few outfalls along the Creek rather than many points along the tributaries to the Creek. This stormwater consolidation to just a few outfalls causes an excessive litter load to be dumped at a few points.This results in unsanitary, unsightly conditions that are unfair to the Tookany – Tacony Creek neighbors who happen to live near the PWD outfall or visit the Tacony Creek Park in the Friends Hospital area.

Let’s take a look at the location of PWD’s Tookany – Tacony Creek outfalls and the results of my creek trash photo surveys in the map below: (Click image to enlarge)

Slide1

There is a relationship between the PWD outfall locations and the location of Tookany – Tacony Creek segments with excessive creek trash conditions. 3 segments have particularly bad  creek trash conditions:

  1. Rock Creek below PWD’s T-01 CSO
  2. Mill Run below PWD’s T-088-01 MS4 outfall
  3. Tacony Creek from Roosevelt Blvd to Friends Hospital – below PWD’s T-08 CSO

Let’s take a look at the drainage areas for the 3 outfalls s (T-01, T-088-01, T-08) with the worst downstream creek trash condition: (Click image to enlarge)

Tacony_vulnerable_outfalls

T-01’s drainage area is approximately 260 acres discharging into the very  small Rock Creek at  one point just south of Route 309 (Ogontz Ave).

T-088-01’s drainage area is approximately 450 acres discharging into the very  small Mill Run creek at one point, just east Cheltenham Ave

T-08’s drainage area is approximately 1,950 acres discharging into Tacony Creek, just north of Roosevelt Blvd. While the Tacony Creek is larger than the Rock Creek and Mill Run segments, the discharge of littered PWD stormwater from such a large area is a major cause of the creek trash problem visible from Roosevelt Blvd to Friends Hospital.

The configuration of PWD’s  sewer system contributes to the Tookany – Tacony Creek Trash problem because it carries littered stormwater flow from large areas to single points discharges along the Creek where the litter is caught along the rough banks and vegetation.

Generic City-wide PWD and Streets Department solutions will not completely solve the Tacony Creek problem. Tookany – Tacony Creek residents and Tacony Creek Park visitors need a Tookany – Tacony Creek Trash Plan need tailored to the specific issues in Tookany – Tacony Creek.

Tacony Creek Litter By Friends Hospital – 2 Photosynth Surveys

Friends Hospital, just downstream of Whitaker Ave, is downstream of 6 PWD outfalls (T-08 – T-13). the litter laden PWD stormwater deposits plastic bags, food wrappers and other debris on the Tacony Creek banks along the Friends Hospital property.

I’ve made 2 new photosynths of the Friends Hospital creek trash situation here and here.

Photosynth is a powerful Tacony Creek litter documentation tool because it lets me stitch together dozens of photos around a litter build-up site. The 1st photosynth shows a 360 degree view of a Friends Hospital trash build-up area. You can navigate the synth several ways:

  • Selecting one of the photos outlined in white
  • Selecting one of the highlights on right side of image
  • Using navigation arrows at bottom of photo

Navigating_synth

The 2nd synth shows a Friends Hospital branch on the left side of the Creek that has been catching plastic bags and other stormwater debris.

I plan to use this natural stormwater trash trap to study the build-up rate in this section of the Tacony Creek. Here are before and after photos of my 10/17/13 branch clean-up.