Pennsylvania

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Catalina Jaramillo

Catalina Jaramillo

Catalina Jaramillo covers watershed issues for StateImpact Pennsylvania and WHYY. She also delves into community development issues, environmental/sustainability stories, and neighborhood narratives for PlanPhilly. She is a freelance correspondent for Chilean newspaper La Tercera, collaborates with Feet in Two Worlds, a news organization that brings the work of ethnic media journalists to public radio and the web, and teaches Spanish-language journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. She was born and raised in Santiago, Chile, and has lived in Spain, Mexico and the U.S. She’s been living in the Norris Square section of Philadelphia since 2014. She tweets as @cjaramillo and you can email her at cjaramillo@whyy.org.

  • Email: cjaramillo@whyy.org

Street construction poses hidden danger of lead-laced drinking water

Manuel Ortiz looks out his living room window to the street construction outside his home.

Catalina Jaramillo / StateImpact PA

Manuel Ortiz looks out his living room window to the street construction outside his home. Ortiz says he wasn't informed that replacing a water main could cause lead to leach into his tap water from the lead service lines delivering water to his house on the 3000 block of north Rosehill Street in North Philadelphia.

About five years ago, doctors found high levels of lead in the blood of Manuel Ortiz’s oldest son. Ortiz and his wife were surprised. They say Manuel Jr. acted like a normal kid.

Health inspectors told them the culprit was lead-based paint in their rented apartment. Ortiz says the landlord didn’t do anything to fix it, so the family moved out as soon as they could.

What Ortiz didn’t know, was that he moved into a house with a lead service line, which could mean he and his son were drinking water with lead in it. And now, the water department wants to do work on his street that could make the lead levels in his water spike.

But until a reporter showed up at his doorstep, Ortiz said nobody told him about the danger to Manuel Jr. lurking in their water taps.

“He doesn’t act like a normal kid,” said Ortiz. “He is 13 now, but he acts like a kid of 10. I feel sad….we’re a low-income family. A lot of people go through it, we’re not alone.”

Although lead-based paint and contaminated dust are the largest source of lead for children, water remains a constant and unpredictable threat for anyone living in a house with lead water pipes. And advocates say it’s an easy one to fix. Continue reading at PlanPhilly.

Sea level rise to cause chronic flooding in Delaware Bay and Jersey Coast, scientists say

This Feb. 16, 2017 photo shows Marty Mozzo in his back yard in Ocean City N.J. on the edge of a back bay wetlands. When he and his wife were considering buying the house, they looked at a small trickle of water in the distance and wondered if the property would flood, deciding the water was too far away to pose a danger. Within weeks, their hou8se was surrounded by flood waters.

Wayne Parry / AP Photo

This Feb. 16, 2017 photo shows Marty Mozzo in his back yard in Ocean City N.J. on the edge of a back bay wetlands. When he and his wife were considering buying the house, they looked at a small trickle of water in the distance and wondered if the property would flood, deciding the water was too far away to pose a danger. Within weeks, their house was surrounded by flood waters.

About 170 coastal communities across the nation will experience chronic flooding 20 years from now, disrupting people’s life and daily routines, and forcing residents of those communities to make difficult and expensive decisions, according to a study out this week by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In a moderate sea level rise scenario, cities and towns along the Delaware Bay and New Jersey coastlines could see between 15 and 40 percent of their land flooded at least 26 times each year by 2030.

“It’s horrifying,” Suzanne Hornick, chairperson of the Ocean City, NJ Flooding Committee. “My house would be under water in 40 years.”

Hornick is already in a bad situation. She says her home floods about 10 times a year, and she has to fix her basement walls and garage door at least every two years. Every time it rains, Hornick says she moves her car and parks it two or three blocks from her house, so it doesn’t get inundated with water. When winter storm Jonas hit the U.S. in 2016, she couldn’t leave her home for four days. Continue Reading

How one Philadelphia neighborhood battles rising tides

A man waves for a tow truck after getting swamped trying to cross a flooded section of the Cobbs Creek Parkway, Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in Philadelphia. Cobbs Creek and Darby Creek merge in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia where flooding is expected to get worse due to rising sea levels.

AP Photo

A man waves for a tow truck after getting swamped trying to cross a flooded section of the Cobbs Creek Parkway, Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in Philadelphia. Cobbs Creek and Darby Creek merge in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia where flooding is expected to get worse due to rising sea levels.

Joining dozens of communities across the country Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced Wednesday he has committed the city to a goal of 100 percent clean energy. It’s part of a growing effort by cities and states to reduce their carbon footprint in the wake of President Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement, a landmark international effort to cut global carbon emissions to reduce the worst impacts of climate change.

In the Philadelphia region, climate scientists say those impacts will include hotter summers, greater rain fall and floods.

One city neighborhood is already working on how to respond to rising sea levels. Climate change is not theoretical for residents of Eastwick, a neighborhood built over a marsh in southwest Philadelphia. The area is already subject to frequent and severe flooding, and researchers say it will only get worse.

At least ten high flow events since 1999 have seriously damaged about 130 properties and city infrastructure, according to the Philadelphia Water Department.

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