Schuylkill watershed

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.

Join the Schuylkill Scrub!

Visit the Schuylkill River in the warmer months and you will find it teeming with life, both in the water and along its banks. It is hard to imagine that this scenic river, which provides drinking water to over 1.5 million people (that’s 12 out of every 100 Pennsylvanians!), was once considered the dirtiest river in the country.  The Schuylkill has come a long way and today boasts one quarter of the watershed designated as high quality or exceptional waters. But it still needs your help… and now is the time to do it—join the Schuylkill Scrub!

The Schuylkill Scrub, coordinated by the Schuylkill Action Network, is an annual clean-up initiative that happens every spring. This year’s Scrub started at the beginning of March and runs through May 31, so there’s still time to organize and register a clean-up event in you part of the watershed (or find one that already exists). You’ll be working alongside other partners and concerned citizens to clean as many miles of road, stream and parkland within the watershed. This coordinated effort will help keep our land and water litter-free (which is a good thing, remember, people drink that water).

The Schuylkill Scrub is now part of the Great American Cleanup of PA, so you’ll be part of a larger effort to clean and beautify our entire state and your cleanup can get free supplies like trash bags, gloves and vests, provided through Keep PA Beautiful and PennDOT. Additionally, during the Pick It Up PA Days, which is from April 11th to May 4th, registered events will have access to reduced or free trash disposal.

Last year, Keep America Beautiful logged over 52,000 volunteers who removed 1,300 tons of trash in over 1,200 neighborhoods in the five counties surrounding the Schuylkill River! Help make this year a success by signing up today and know that you‘re part of the effort to keep trash out of the Schuylkill, from the headwaters in Schuylkill County down to its confluence with the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

Click here for more information and to register your cleanup: http://www.schuylkillscrub.org/

If you don’t have time to organize your own cleanup, there may be one happening in your neighborhood already! Use this link to find existing cleanups http://www.schuylkillscrub.org/find-an-event.html.

Get Funding for Projects to Protect the Schuylkill River Watershed

Schuylkill River and Philadelphia skyline
Image courtesy of Ed Yakovich. 

PWD is one of several public and private funders of The Schuylkill River Restoration Fund

The Fund provides grants to government agencies and non-profit organizations for projects that improve the quality of water in the Schuylkill’s watershed. Since 2006, the Fund has collected more than $2 million and funded over 60 projects! Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Schuylkill River Restoration Fund.

Does your community group, school or non-profit business have a project in the works that might qualify for funding? View the Fund guidelines here. And download the application here

Your organization may also qualify for a $4,000 Land Transaction Assistance Grant, which is intended to assist with transaction costs for permanent land protection projects (conservation easements, full fee acquisitions, donations). Download the Land Transaction Assistance Grant guidelines here.

While the grants also focus on agricultural pollution and abandoned mine drainage, here in Philadelphia, past recipients have used funding from the grants to pay for projects that manage stormwater run-off. 

In 2014 Grants totaling $337,465 were awarded to seven projects. Among them was a $37,961 award for a meadow at SDP’s Cook-Wissahickon School that resulted in 3,300 sq. ft. of new meadow installed and maintained, as well as an education for the neighbors in the difference between a meadow and an unkempt lawn

Want more information? Contact Tim Fenchel at tfenchel@schuylkillriver.org or call the Schuylkill River Heritage Area at 484-945-0200.

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