Clogging our Rivers: This graph shows that over 55 percent of litter collected from the Schuylkill River during recent skimmer boat trips was plastic, and 77 percent of that was plastic bottles. Click the graph for a larger image. Source: Environmental Restoration & Maintenance,
Office of Watersheds, Philadelphia Water.

Philadelphia Water and a coalition of people and groups who care about our rivers, parks and planet are taking the fight against wasteful single-use water bottles to the Schuylkill River.

Mayor Michael Nutter will join partners in this campaign at Kelly Drive and Fountain Green Drive on Friday, Oct. 23 at 12 p.m. in announcing a new network of water bottle filling stations that will stretch along Kelly Drive from East Falls to Boathouse Row, providing convenient access to free drinking water on one of the region’s most popular recreational trails.

"Bottled water costs consumers many times more than public drinking water, and it’s also taking a toll on the environment through pervasive litter and a troubling carbon footprint resulting from the production, transportation and refrigeration of disposable plastic bottles," said Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug. "This initiative makes it easy for Philadelphia to drop the bad bottled water habit and make the smart choice for their wallets and our planet."

The reusable bottle giveaway and future drinking water advocacy campaigns will be promoted on social media using  #DrinkTapPHL.

The specially designed and highly visible stations will include traditional drinking fountains and a ground-level water bowl for dog-walkers. Four kiosks are scheduled to be installed by this spring, and more are planned for Center City and other Fairmount Park locations.

To further encourage Philadelphians to take advantage of the city’s clean, abundant and inexpensive drinking water, Philadelphia Water partnered with the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta (HOSR) to give away more than 12,000 high-quality, BPA-free reusable water bottles during the Oct. 24 &25 race, which draws as many as 8,000 athletes and 30-000 – 40,000 spectators to the Schuylkill River each fall.

"Philadelphia tap water is some of the finest tap water anywhere in the nation," said Mayor Nutter. "I am proud to announce that the City will provide these amenities for our citizens and visitors. … These new water kiosks will encourage even more people to get outside and utilize the park, leading to healthier lifestyles for families across Philadelphia."

By working with HOSR, one of the nation’s premier annual rowing events, Philadelphia Water puts a spotlight on the city’s top-quality, affordable drinking water and discourages the use of disposable water bottles, a major source of litter in our rivers and parks. Other partners in the initiative include Schuylkill Navy’s River Stewards Committee and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

MORE: Click Here for Fact Sheet on Bottled Water Litter in Philly!

"For all event organizers and people in the rowing community who care about the health and beauty of the Schuylkill River, one our city’s most valued natural resources and one of the best rowing venues in the nation, the time and costs spent removing bottled water litter represents a major challenge," said Co-director and HOSR President Ellen Carver. "We are proud to partner with Philadelphia Water in this initiative and to help set an example for others to follow. We are convinced that this initiative can put a real dent in the amount of plastic waste generated by recreational activities along the Schuylkill River."

Combined, Philadelphia Water’s drinking water plants can provide 546 million gallons of clean tap water daily at a cost of just about seven-tenths of cent ($0.007) per gallon, while the average gallon of bottled water costs $1.22, more than 174 times as much. That means a family that drinks 3 gallons of water a day could save more $1,300 each year by choosing tap water.