PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Water makes up about 71% of the earth’s surface. Here at home, the Philadelphia Water Department is working to protect drinking water and keep the waterways clean. Eyewitness News takes you behind the scenes of Philadelphia’s water system.
“Out of sight, out of mind,” Philadelphia Water Department CEO Randy Hayman said. “And yet, it operates 365 days a year, 24/7. It doesn’t take a day off.”READ MORE: Seven Years After Her Disappearance, Still No Traces Of What Happened To Amanda DeGuio
That is Philadelphia Water Commissioner Randy Hayman talking about water infrastructure and facilities throughout the city and how water can be a forgotten resource.
The Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers are often overlooked scenery, but the health of these bodies of water shouldn’t be and in 2011, Philadelphia started the Green City, Clean Waters initiative.
“One of the major areas of pollution in an urban environment is stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflow,” Hayman said. “So, we have to address those and stop that pollution from making it to the river.”
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Ten years into the 25-year plan, the city has made large strides, including a recent announcement to create a new support facility for the current water treatment plant in Port Richmond while also supporting a move to greener stormwater upgrades throughout the whole city. But Hayman says there is still more to do.
“The bottom line is, we have to reach about 9,600 green acres within that 25-year span,” Hayman said. “As of last June, we had about 1,600. So, we have a lot to still do, and you’re basically squeezing more and more out of less area.”
Even as the Water Department improves the city’s infrastructure and individual residents do their part, heavy machinery is still needed to finish the job
“The Philadelphia Water Department does everything they can to keep the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers as clean as possible,” Hayman said. “One of the pieces of equipment they have is the R.E Roy, which uses a skimmer to collect trash and plastics out of the bodies of water.”
Our changing climate makes the job of the water department even harder.
“We have a group that deals with climate change and sustainability,” Hayman said. “That allows us to look at what’s happening in the river, but at the same time, it allows us to look at how climate change is going to affect our infrastructure. Water is precious and valuable, and we need to take a step back and appreciate it for what it is. Water is life. And two, we need to appreciate the beauty of it.”MORE NEWS: 2 Young Unresponsive Children Rushed To Hospital After Mother Jumps Out Window, Philadelphia Police Say
As we continue to work to clean up the planet, we need to remember water is an important commodity and needs to be treated as such.