Whether you’re superstitious or just a little stitious, good luck out there this Friday the 13th. In Philadelphia’s waterways, it’s more than bad luck that’s causing raw sewage to flow into creeks and rivers at an increasing rate. And as climate change causes stronger, wetter storms, experts predict the mess will only worsen. Meanwhile, the number of bills introduced by Pennsylvania’s legislature has decreased significantly over the past decades as state lawmakers do less and less actual lawmaking, an Inquirer and Spotlight PA analysis found.

In the background is the largest combined sewer overflow in Philadelphia, known as T14, that flows into Frankford Creek in Tacony Creek Park in Philadelphia, PA on September 4, 2019.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
In the background is the largest combined sewer overflow in Philadelphia, known as T14, that flows into Frankford Creek in Tacony Creek Park in Philadelphia, PA on September 4, 2019.

On Labor Day, a little rain in Philadelphia caused a big problem. As a quarter inch of rain suddenly fell near Frankford Creek in Juniata Park, the creek surged to nine times its normal volume, and water carrying trash from city streets mixed with raw sewage from nearby homes, blowing past the treatment capacity of the city’s aging sewer systems and decimating the water quality.

Philly’s sewage system is designed to overflow during storms into local waterways, intended to prevent what could be catastrophic issues at sewage treatment plants.

But as the city deals with increasingly stronger, wetter storms, the sewage overflow also increases — and it’s making more of a mess than ever.

Pennsylvania has the largest full-time legislature and among the best-paid lawmakers in the country, yet they’re doing less and less lawmaking, an analysis by The Inquirer and Spotlight PA found.

The number of bills introduced in the legislature has fallen by more than 20% from its peak in the early 1990s, and the number of bills actually passed into law has fallen even more dramatically in the years since, according to the analysis of four decades of legislative data.

Instead, resolutions — often ceremonial gestures including creating task forces, urging Congress to take action on an issue, or marking special occasions like Banana Split Day on Aug. 25 — are on the rise.

For the first time last night, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren appeared on the debate stage together as the Democratic party’s 10 leading presidential candidates argued over topics from health care to race to gun laws in Houston.

At one point, candidate Andrew Yang announced that his campaign will give free money to random families, while former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro botched an attack on Biden.

Read our takeaways from the third Democratic debate here.

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“‘Oh, we detainees don’t get to go outside. Only regular prisoners. I have not seen the sun for two months,’ she said. I looked at her sallow complexion and understood." - Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, a professor at Stockton University, gives an update on her friends, two South Philadelphia immigrants who were detained by ICE in July.

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YOGA01P Dogs are everywhere during BYO Dog yoga session at Country Haven Kennels in Mt Holly, NJ. From left, Barbara Richardson of Eastampton; Jennifer Gervasoni of Medford Lakes; Stacy Powell of Columbus; and kennel owner Casey Crotchfelt. CURT HUDSON / For the Inquirer.
YOGA01P Dogs are everywhere during BYO Dog yoga session at Country Haven Kennels in Mt Holly, NJ. From left, Barbara Richardson of Eastampton; Jennifer Gervasoni of Medford Lakes; Stacy Powell of Columbus; and kennel owner Casey Crotchfelt. CURT HUDSON / For the Inquirer.

Animal yoga: it’s everywhere, and it’s not cheap. But which classes are worth stretching your budget for a little downward dog with a four-legged friend? Reporter Bethany Ao put these five classes to the test.