Accomplishments: Greater Philadelphia Urban Waters Location
Greater Philadelphia Urban Waters Accomplishments - The First Two Years
Information on the Accomplishments of the Greater Philadelphia Area/Delaware River Watershed program (Spring 2013 - Spring 2015).
The local Partnership has developed a Regional Brownfields Community of Practice (CoP) that meets regularly and focuses on key near-shore urban brownfield sites. With support from this group, the four partnering cities (Philadelphia, Chester PA, Camden NJ, Wilmington DE) have been awarded over $6-million in federal brownfield planning, assessment, cleanup, and job training grants since 2013. Federal agencies are also providing in-kind technical resources and additional grant funding to link these efforts with broader UWFP ecosystem service restoration goals related to climate resilience, fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, recreational enhancement, economic revitalization, and environmental justice. Example projects include Phoenix Park and Harrison Ave Landfill in Camden; Schuylkill and Delaware River waterfront projects in Philadelphia; the Chester Waterfront Master Plan; and the South Wilmington wetland design and construction and planning efforts along the lower Brandywine River. By adding and transferring site-specific benefits and successes, the Brownfields CoP addresses regional needs in the most populated and negatively impacted area of the Delaware Bay and Watershed.
Engaging Disadvantaged Youth on the River
The Wilderness Inquiry Canoemobile, a fleet of vans each with six 24-foot Voyageur canoes, delivers local education and paddling experiences on urban rivers and waterways nationwide. In 2013, the Canoemobile visited the Lower Delaware River and its tributaries for the first time, spending one day in each of the four cities. After that highly successful initial outing, the project was awarded an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant in 2014, enabling the local partners to expand their impact with 3-4 days in each city on future visits. In addition to safely navigating their local waterways, participants conquer their fears, work as teams, test water quality, observe wildlife, try out fishing and rowing, study watershed models, and learn about the cultural history of their urban rivers. Now a celebrated annual event, the Delaware River Canoemobile program has engaged several thousand underserved schoolchildren and community members. The program is a catalyst for federal, state, and local governments, school districts, and nonprofit organizations to come together and provide high quality environmental education at scale and where it is least expected – and most needed.
Communications and Connections
One important foundational activity of the Delaware River UWFP is ongoing communication with engaged partners – now including more than 400 individuals in some 140 organizations across all public and private sectors. Making connections through periodic email compilations of assorted useful items – grants, events, webinars, meetings, resources, job postings, etc. – these “Partner Updates” continually attract new partners and have largely sustained themselves, with new material shared routinely from numerous collaborative sources. Another important method of communication and interconnection is the Annual All Partners Meeting, a day-long event offering informative and inspirational presentations and activities with ample opportunities for participation and networking – the basis for another year of active collaboration.