If Philadelphia’s three drinking water treatment plants are where we ultimately do the work that makes our drinking water healthy enough to consume, you might think of source water protection as “preventative medicine.”
All last week, water utilities and others involved in caring for the water bodies that provide America’s drinking water educated the public about the work, partnerships, and investments that go into ensuring clean water as part of Source Water Protection Week. (A great way to see some of the conversations around this effort nationally is to check out the #ProtectTheSource tag on social media.)
There are many different ways to think about what it means to “protect the source” of our drinking water — an effort that involves everything from national environmental policy to informing individuals about the importance of picking up dog poop. At the Philadelphia Water Department, much of this work falls under our Watershed Protection Program.
A big part of ensuring Philly has clean water is protecting and monitoring our rivers. During @AWWA Source Water Protection Week we want to thank the team behind our Watershed Protection Program for all they do. Check out how they help #ProtectTheSource ➡️https://t.co/Ot2yonl9EU pic.twitter.com/rMpF5BrYNx
— Philadelphia Water (@PhillyH2O) September 29, 2022
And, because we draw our drinking water from the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers and the very lower end of those waterways, one of the most important things we do is our work with upstream partners to ensure the water is as healthy as it can be by the time it reaches us: preventive medicine.
Schuylkill River Restoration Fund Projects Announced
Philadelphia’s efforts to invest in projects and partnerships throughout the Schuylkill River, which provides nearly half of the city’s drinking water, were on display on September 16 when the Schuylkill River Greenways organization led a bus tour highlighting some recent water quality projects made possible by through the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund.
Created in 2006, the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund provides grants to government agencies and non-profit organizations for projects that improve the quality of water in the watershed. As one of the major financial supporters of the fund and a member of the committee that helps select projects, PWD supports the goal of the Restoration Fund: backing projects in the watershed that are consistent with renewal and water management goals for the span of the river basin.
“Because we draw our drinking water from the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers and the very lower end of those waterways, one of the most important things we do is our work with upstream partners to ensure the water is as healthy as it can be by the time it reaches us.”
Since it was founded, the fund has distributed more than $4.6 million in grants and leveraged an additional $5 million for over 120 water quality projects in the watershed, with locations ranging from streams in the headwaters to right here in Philadelphia.
The September 16 tour included a stop at a rain garden system helping to reduce runoff from a cow pasture near Pickering Creek, a stream bank restoration and erosion control project along the Perkiomen Creek, and inlet filtration systems in Pottstown that help reduce litter and sediment in the river.
Also highlighted at the event were the 2022 grant awardees, with over $300,000 in grants for restoration projects across five counties in the Schuylkill River Watershed announced.
In Philadelphia, two projects were funded this year: Neighborhood Gardens Trust will use funds to preserve impervious green space at the Brewerytown Garden at 27th and Master, and the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education will use a grant to help cover the cost of a stormwater project to address issues affecting Smiths Run, a first-order tributary flowing into the river above Manayunk.
This project will protect water quality, create wildlife habitat, and effectively eliminate threats posed by stormwater runoff.