Request for Proposals

Request for Proposals
“Community Impact: Managing Water in Philadelphia”
Proposals Due by 5:00 p.m. EST, August 14, 2014
Penn State Public Media (PSPM), in collaboration with Fairmount Water Works Education Center and The Penn State Center: Engaging Philadelphia is excited to announce this mini grant initiative.”

Grants, made available with funding from the William Penn Foundation, will support projects within the Philadelphia region (Schuylkill and Delaware Watersheds) that address water issues using green infrastructure and include an educational component.
Grants of $500 to $2,000, based on the scope of the project, will be awarded on a competitive basis to eligible applicants. Projects could include, but are not limited to, local stream restoration projects, community rain garden or rain barrel installations, and green infrastructure projects in a K-16 environment. For more information about the grants or to apply, please visit: http://waterblues.org/rfp
“Community Impact: Managing Water in Philadelphia” mini grants are a component of Water Blues Green Solutions, a public service media initiative. The centerpiece of Water Blues is a nationally distributed public television documentary produced by PSPM that premiered in 2013. The mini grants initiative will help extend the impact of Water Blues. More information about this national initiative is available at: http://www.waterblues.org/.

Call for Abstracts

Delaware Estuary Science & Environmental Summit

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary invites scientists and managers to share their discoveries at its science and environmental summit on January 25-28 in Cape May, New Jersey. Those who do will gain exposure to hundreds of potential collaborators near and far.  All you have to do is submit an abstract by August 1 at DelawareEstuary.org. Both lectures and posters are welcome. These may include anything from chemistry to communications, whether it’s a lab experiment or large-scale project. Please visit our website for a detailed brochure, or call Priscilla Cole at (800) 445-4935, extension 115. Information about registration, rooms and more will follow this fall.


Coming Soon: Hills of the Wissahickon Watershed

(Dates and times TBD)

Coming this fall…Tromp the wooded valley of the Wissahickon and Monoshone Creeks and learn the history, engineering and ecology of several special sites: Cave of Kelpius, a remote mystic settlement, Forbidden Drive with WPA-era bridges and huts, Rittenhouse Town, a restored paper mill settlement, and the beautiful Saylor Grove wetlands with seasonal butterflies, waterfowl and an interpretive boardwalk trail.



Bird Walk in Tacony Creek Park


Join the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Partnership for a free walk to look for birds, with expert birder Keith Russell of the Audubon Society.

The walk will take place on Sunday, June 29, from 8:00 to 10:30 a.m. Meet at Tacony Creek Park,  1st Street and Ramona Avenue, Philadelphia 19124.

Expect some good bird-spotting (woodpeckers, chickadees, hawks, oh my!). Donuts, COFFEE and binoculars will be provided.

Please RSVP to Doryán De Angel at doryan@ttfwatershed.org or at 215-744-1953.



Watershed Education is a Ball

Sorlien_1When our own educator and photographer Sandy Sorlien began rowing the Schuylkill River, she was struck by its natural beauty, plentiful wildlife and raw power. But her camera lens drew her to something else, something more mysterious.

“I noticed numerous balls floating down the river and stuck in bushes. Soccer balls, kick balls, baseballs, basketballs – you name it,” said Sorlien, who has taught photography at several universities and earned three fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. “I began shooting them, and collecting them. Eventually, the collection became more interesting than the photos.”

These balls are the product of stormwater runoff, and Sorlien saw them as an opportunity to teach local families about the importance of urban watershed management. She earned a $1,000 grant from The Awesome Foundation to participate in Art in the Open, the annual arts festival along the Schuylkill Banks. The idea: engage families visually through “Rescue H2O,” using magnets to connect the balls and create what appear to be colorful water molecules.

“It was very popular,” said Sorlien, who is also an expert in urban zoning and planning. “The balls with magnets were attracted to each other and clumped together. Sometimes they made H2O (one large Oxygen ball and two smaller Hydrogen balls) and sometimes they didn’t, similar to atoms randomly forming molecules. The real education began when people started asking where the balls came from.”


Connect with Drink Up!

WaterDropArt2The collaboration to encourage everyone to drink more water was formed between the Partnership for a Healthier America – which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to make the healthy choice the easy choice for busy parents and families – and stakeholders across the public and private sectors who are dedicated to encouraging people to drink more water more often. You are what you drink – and when you drink water, you drink up.

To learn more, please visit http://youarewhatyoudrink.org.


All About the Flood at the FWW

10273095_10203597521808810_5240108601674603907_oWe’ve had many questions about our May 1 flood. Among them: why did we sustain so much damage? The short answer: it was man vs. nature, a race against the clock, and more water than anyone predicted. We take you back to that day, one we’ve been reliving ever since.

April 30

3:38 pm: The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at NOAA forecasts that the Schuylkill will crest at 12.1 feet at 8 am on May 1. Historically a pumping station, our building is designed to bring water inside and we are well prepared should flooding occur. We make careful written calculations about how high to move our equipment if needed.
4:30 pm: Seventeen teachers arrive for a workshop on our curriculum, Understanding the Urban Watershed, as part of the Philadelphia Science Festival.
5:30 pm: As water from the Schuylkill creeps in, staff members double-check the NOAA predictions. Based on careful calculations, we decide where to move our apparatus so they’re out of harm’s way.
6:30 – 10 pm: Our staff works tirelessly moving our equipment, water seeps in, and conditions are becoming unsafe. We continue to check NOAA. An exhausted team leaves around 10 pm.
11 pm: Within the last hour, NOAA predicts that the Schuylkill will crest at 12.8 feet at 8 am. Even at this new level, we are confident that our items will be safe.

May 1
3 – 4 am:
High tide occurs at 3:14 am, coinciding with peak flow (91,000 cubic feet per second) and height of the Schuylkill, which crests at 4 am at 13.91 feet. It is over a foot higher and four hours earlier than originally predicted.
9 am to 5 pm: With tears and heavy hearts, we begin to assess the damage. We find that the water was higher than where some items were placed, and its force knocked down shelving storing equipment above the water level. Despite our best efforts, we sustained significant damage to electronics, fish tanks, microscopes, files and other materials for our education programs.

Like millions of others who have experienced flooding in their lifetimes, we know that ours is a story about the unpredictability and mighty force of the river and the best intentions and actions of dedicated individuals. We are grateful that everyone is safe.


The Water Works Needs You Now!

The Water Works Needs You Now!

In case you haven’t heard, The Water Works suffered damage and loss of materials from the recent flooding, and we need your help. We are working around the clock to clean up, so that we can re-open to the public as soon as possible.

Onsite environmental educators are now traveling from classroom to classroom visiting all of the schools that had scheduled field trips to the WW! And we are still conducting our WW tours, but they are completely outdoors until the renovations are complete.

We are determined to keep our commitments to the children and adults in our community through this difficult time, but we need your support to do so. Won’t you please make a gift of $35, $50 or even $75 today?

Your immediate support will replace vital resources for our summer programs, such as SWEP, our two-week program for girls focused on environmental careers, and Project FLOW, a five-week summer program that allows rising 8th and 9th graders to explore water as artists, scientists, historians and social activists.

Our goal is to raise $25,000 to replace materials and equipment essential to these programs by May 31st. It is so important that our summer programs can go on as scheduled. Won’t you help us meet that goal?

We’re counting on you – and we’re grateful for your support. To donate, please go to Click here to donate online.

Thank you!
Karen Young

The Water Works

Fairmount Water Works
640 Water Works Drive
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Flooded Out — and CLOSED — at the Fairmount Water Works!

Due to flooding and high tides, the Water Works is closed until further notice for inside activities. We are offering our outreach and outside activities.

We’re working hard to re-open for our wonderful weekend activities but, as you can see from Sandy Sorlien’s sobering photos, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

We’ve been told that this was the 7th worst flooding in history. The river crested at nearly 14 feet; almost double its normal crest height of 6.5 feet. We’ll have more information for you as we move forward with this enormous clean-up.

Please call us at 215-685-0723 before stopping by. We love to have visitors—but not when we’re underwater. 10273095_10203597521808810_5240108601674603907_o




Water Blues, Green Solutions documentary screening coming on May 14th

How we manage stormwater in the 21st century will affect the quality of our health and the sustainability of our way of life.

Water Blues Green Solutions is an interactive film project, telling the stories of communities creating green solutions for our water blues – flooding, pollution, and scarcity. The film takes us on a journey across the country in search of communities that are adopting new ways of thinking about how to protect, restore, and preserve our rivers and the sources of our drinking water.

Join us on Wednesday, May 14, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. for a special Philadelphia-area screening of Water Blues Green Solutions to be held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in the Van Pelt Auditorium. There will be a panel discussion and an opportunity for you to present your questions to the panelists.

Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance at https://waterbluesdocumentary.eventbrite.com.

Parking for the event is available at the Philadelphia Art Museum, and parking can be validated for guests.  Please use the West Entrance for the Museum.

If you would like to explore the Museum before the screening event starts, the Museum offers Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesday Nights beginning at 5:00pm. Explore the Museum and its remarkable collections in inventive, interactive, and dynamic new ways.


This event is presented by the Fairmount Water Works, Penn State Public Media and The Penn State Center: Engaging Philadelphia and is made possible with funding from William Penn Foundation.