About 30 community members representing local schools, neighborhood groups and nature conservancies gathered at Awbury Arboretum on Tuesday for the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership’s second annual Community Networking Breakfast.
The TTFWP’s mission is to enhance the health and vitality of the Tookany/Tacony Creek and Frankford Creek watersheds, which together drain 30 square miles of northern Philadelphia and Montgomery County. (The creek is known as Tookany Creek in Montgomery County and Tacony Creek in Philadelphia.)
Much of Northwest Philadelphia is a part of the watershed, but the drainage in Mt. Airy and Germantown is invisible to the eye. The major waterway in the area – Wingohocking Creek – was paved over, enclosed and turned into part of the city’s stormwater drainage system in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Runoff west of Germantown Avenue eventually moves into the Schuylkill River. East of Germantown Avenue, it goes into the Wingohocking Creek and conducted to Juniata Park. There, it meets with the Tookany/Tacony Creek and forms Frankford Creek, which flows into the Delaware River.
Julie Slavet, executive director of TTFWP and Alix Howard, the group’s director of education and outreach, outlined what the organization has planned for this year and gave updates on existing projects.
Last year the organization, in partnership with the City’s Parks and Recreations department’s TreePhilly program, surveyed places in the Northwest to see where trees could be planted. As a result, the city will plant 500 trees this year.
The TTFWP is taking part in numerous cleanups for the watershed in 2013, including participating in citywide events such as Love Your Park and Philly Spring Cleanup later this year.
In the fall, the group will begin marking all the stormwater drains along the length of Washington Lane to note they are part of the area’s drainage and water system. Washington Lane stretches for nine miles from Wayne Avenue in Germantown to the Rydal train station in Abington Township.
The reason for the project? “People don’t make the connection – they don’t have any idea what happens to the stuff that goes into the drains,” said Slavet. She added that much of it ends up polluting the water that supplies the city’s drinking water.
The group is launching an effort titled Watershed Heroes to spread the word about watershed maintainence. The program will provide a structure for volunteers and help them inform others about the issues facing the watershed.
TTFWP has two full-time paid employees in addition to Americorps VISTA members and interns from local schools.
“What we hope to get out of this meeting is volunteers for projects,” said Slavet.
“We would have people coming to our events who really got interested and involved. You could see people who really light up,” said Slavet, noting that until now, the group had no way of connecting all of their programs with such volunteers.
The Watershed Heroes program will kick off with a workshop on partnering for clean water on a date to be determined. For more information or to sign up, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.