Out to Pasture: Philly Tours Farms Protecting Our Source Water

 Philadelphia Water toured Berks Co. farms on Friday, November 7 with Berks Nature. Credit: Brian Rademaekers/Philadelphia Water

KEMPTON, PA Pointing to a towering, soggy heap of what he calls "slop," Larry Lloyd traces with his finger a stream of water running from the base of a manure pile to a small drainage pipe that connects to an adjacent creek.

Nearby, rows of cows and calves calmly and mechanically chew hay. Without much noticing it, they are simultaneously creating what seems to be an endless supply of fresh manure for farmers to stack into yet more heaps. It’s hay in one end, water-polluting manure out the other.

And it never stops.

"This is what we’re up against," says Lloyd, a lanky, weather-tanned man in his 60s who sports a baseball cap and a pair of boots well-suited for his manure-rich job— getting local farmers to adopt smart runoff management practices.

Be Safe When Beating the Heat: Save Swimming for Pools!

It looks cleanenough for a dip, but don't be decieved: the Delaware and our other waterways can be a dangerous place to swim.
It looks clean enough for a dip, but don't be deceived: the Delaware River and our other waterways can be dangerous places to swim. Photo credit: Philadelphia Water.

Thanks to ever-increasing efforts to improve water quality, our rivers and streams are cleaner than they've been in decades. So we don't blame you if you're tempted to take a plunge to beat the stifling heat gripping the city. But don't.

Currently, our waterways just aren't safe enough for swimming and wading due to the presence of pollutants and germs like Cryptosporidium and Giardia, which can cause serious health problems, especially for those with weakened immune systems.

Here's a helpful flyer that outlines some of the dangers associated with recreation in urban waterways:

Don't Swim in Philadelphia's Rivers and Streams 
Click for a larger image that can be printed and shared.

While swimming in our rivers is against the law, the city does provide great resources for those who want to cool down with a swim: neighborhood pools! You can click here to find a pool, sprayground or Cooling Center near you.

If you're involved with an organized event that includes recreation on the Schuylkill or Delaware, check out our CSOcast page, which tracks rain events and provides alerts about likely combined sewer overflows that can put untreated wastewater in our rivers. The RiverCast page tracks recreational water quality on the Schuylkill between Manayunk and Boathouse Row. 

Unsafe water caused by combined sewer overflows and stormwater pollution is a big part of why we're investing so much in Green City, Clean Waters—our plan to reduce stormwater pollution by 85 percent.

We're not there yet and we'll never be able to remove 100 percent of the potentially dangerous germs in our waterways, but with your help and a lot of green infrastructure, Philadelphia is looking at a future with much cleaner rivers and creeks.

Until then: stay safe, and save your swimming for our pools!

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