From the very beginning, the Fairmount Park system has been an important tool for protecting Philadelphia's rivers and streams, and to read the history of our park system is to read a story of city planners striving to create natural buffers to protect rivers and streams from industry and development.

Rather than evolving away from that original purpose, our parks are today actually becoming more and more important for protecting the city's seven watersheds.

As Philadelphians gather for Love Your Park Week—a celebration of our green spaces involving more than 80 volunteer service days and 40-plus special events in parks across Philadelphia from May 13-21—many of them will be tending to Parks and Recreation facilities that now feature special green tools created through the Green City, Clean Waters program.

The Philadelphia Water Department's partnership with Parks and Recreation has been essential in achieving the ambitious goals of Green City, Clean Waters: drastically reducing pollution from runoff and sewer overflows through the creation of green infrastructure systems that soak up water from storms while creating new green spaces in our neighborhoods.

In 2016, Philadelphia celebrated the program's fifth year and the fact that we're exceeding greening and water quality targets set back when PWD proposed the nation's first large-scale green stormwater infrastructure program.

Without the robust support of Parks and Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and groups like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Trust for Public Land, that might not be the case.

To date, we've constructed 24 Green City, Clean Waters projects at Parks and Recreation centers, and more than 50 additional park-based GSI projects are either in design or construction.

For residents, those completed projects mean two dozen improved park facilities, many featuring new landscaped green spaces. For our rivers and streams, these projects mean millions of gallons of polluted water that will be kept out of our waterways each year.

At the heart of our partnership with Parks and Recreation are neighborhood parks—the spaces where residents gather to relax or exercise on the weekends or after a long day of work. Starting with a 2015 project that added new rain gardens to Stinger Square in Grays Ferry, PWD and PPR have been working closely with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Fairmount Park Conservancy through the Neighborhood Parks Stewardship Initiative—a commitment to make joint improvements to these community spaces while capturing and managing stormwater runoff to improve the health of waterways.

Currently, the initiative is bringing two new rain gardens to Wissinoming Park in Northeast Philadelphia. Thanks to the collaborative effort led by PPR, the improvements also include a new playground area with a spray garden, seating, and a drinking water feature. Combined, the green tools at the park will be able to manage over 70,000 gallons of stormwater runoff for every one-inch rainstorm, keeping millions of gallons of polluted water out of the Delaware River watershed annually.

Both Stinger Square and Wissinoming Park will feature Love Your Park events, as will watershed parks and playgrounds featuring green stormwater tools all over the city.

On May 19, partners in the Neighborhood Parks Stewardship Initiative will join Councilman Bobby Henon and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez to host a ground breaking celebration for the Wissinoming project.

Residents are invited to join City officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, PPR Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell and PWD Commissioner Debra McCarty at Wissinoming Park for a 3 p.m. ceremony that will preview the coming improvements and feature remarks from the Fairmount Park Conservancy and City Council. More here →

This Saturday, May 13, you can check out the rain gardens at Stinger Square while joining the neighborhood for their “Honoring Our Youth” event from 1-3 p.m. Show up early for a Stinger Square Day of Service starting at 9 a.m.

Following a great Fall Love Your Park event at Mifflin Square and Weinberg Park in Southeast Philadelphia, PWD staff will be returning for a Love Your Park Week “Spring Day of Service” on May 13.

VISTA and Volunteers at Weinberg Park

Volunteers will meet at Mifflin at noon before heading over to Weinberg. Participants will also have an opportunity to learn about Green City, Clean Waters improvements planned for the area.

Join this family-friendly event featuring gardening, face painting and more by registering here.

More Love Your Park Week events are planned for Papa Playground, Cedar Park, Columbus Square, Harrowgate Park, Liberty Lands, and the Upper Roxborough Reservoir Preserve--all sites with existing or future green infrastructure improvements.

On top of all the Love Your Park events happening at places with green stormwater tools, there are tons of activities and service days celebrating the original green infrastructure--watershed parks:

With so many events in so many parks that are helping to protect Philly's waterways, there's something for everyone in pretty much every neighborhood.

You can do your part to protect these important spaces and have fun meeting your neighbors by signing up for any one of the events listed on the Love Your Park events page.

Note: With rain in the forecast for this weekend, some events may be impacted Check here and register now to stay in the loop about rain dates and rescheduled events.