Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Water your 2011 goals?

Washing the new year clean, here are a couple of quick items on clean water - or the lack thereof - in the Philadelphia area.

Water your 2011 goals?

Wastewater was discharged from a Colmar treatment plant in to the Neshaminy Creek. (AP)
Wastewater was discharged from a Colmar treatment plant in to the Neshaminy Creek. (AP)

Washing the new year clean, here are a couple of quick items on clean water - or the lack thereof - in the Philadelphia area.

In a story in today's Daily News, "Is 'fracking' poisoning Pa.'s water supply?" an Associated Press review "found that Pennsylvania's efforts to minimize, control and track wastewater discharges have sometimes failed."

One key finding is that "Regulations that should have kept drilling wastewater out of the important Delaware River Basin, the water supply for 15 million people in four states, were circumvented for many months."

And here's another:

In 2009 and part of 2010, energy company Cabot Oil & Gas trucked more than 44,000 barrels of well wastewater to a treatment facility in Colmar, Montgomery County. Those liquids were then discharged through the town sewage plant into the Neshaminy Creek, which winds through Bucks and Montgomery counties on its way to the Delaware River.

Regulators put a stop to the practice in June, but the more than 300,000 residents of the 17 municipalities that get water from the creek or use it for recreation were never informed that numerous public pronouncements that the watershed was free of gas waste had been wrong.

So we can feel righteous railing against the big bad fracking industry for polluting our water, but in some cases the pollution might be closer to home than we expect: Dogs.

As you may recall, the Water Department has opened a campaign to keep dog waste from entering the watershed by finding the perfect "spokesdog" to raise Philadelphians' awareness of the problem. Well, now it's time to vote. Per the PWD press release, citizens can go to the special "Spokesdog" page and

vote daily for the hounds they feel best represent the title of Philly Water's Best Friend.  More than 80 dog owners have declared their pets' candidacy.  And while none has a campaign per se, each pooch has a photo and bio to help voters decide if their lifestyle is eco-friendly enough for the job.

The 20 dogs with the most votes by February 28 will face off during two pageants next spring.  In the end, two winners will be named, one from East Falls and one from Manayunk or Roxborough.

The owner of each winning dog will receive a $200 item from a local pet store.  In exchange, each must attend three community events with their dog on behalf of the PWD.

The chief duty of each spokesdog-owner duo is to prevent water pollution resulting from pet waste.  They will accomplish this by handing out brochures and biodegradable bag dispensers.  These bags will then be used by dog walkers to pick up their petsí waste before flushing it down the toilet or putting it in the trash.

Joanne Dahme, general manager of public affairs at the Philadelphia Water Department, says this is more than just the responsible thing to do.  It is also good for the environment.

"When left on the ground, pet waste becomes a pollutant," Dahme said.  "Rain and melting snow can wash it into creeks and rivers, raising bacteria levels in the same waterways where we like to fish, boat and picnic along.  Our rivers and streams are precious public amenities, and we need to ensure that they are treated that way."

Hopefully, we can keep these precious public amenities from being polluted by sources large and small in 2011.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





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