A ROADMAP TO RESTORING THE DELAWARE RIVER FOR RECREATIONAL USE IN PHILADELPHIA AND CAMDEN
Director of Programs, The Water Center at Penn
Senior Advisor, The Water Center at Penn
Senior Fellow, US Water Alliance
Senior Director, Moonshot Missions
The Delaware River is one of the most important and scenic rivers in the United States. Nearly all of it is available to the public for recreational activities – all of it, except for the zone between Philadelphia and Chester. The Water Center at Penn, the William Penn Foundation and several invested stakeholders, including environmentalists, dischargers, recreational advocates and regulators, are working together to develop a roadmap that would identify the most beneficial steps to improve water quality in this important zone of the Delaware and, ultimately result in a recreational designation.
Thus far, available data suggest that the water quality of the Delaware is significantly worse during wet weather events. This is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that Camden, Chester, Philadelphia and Gloucester City all have combined sewer systems. Camden, Chester, Gloucester City, and Philadelphia all have plans and existing financial commitments to address their combined sewer systems and reduce their potential impact upon the Delaware River and its upstream tributaries. These plans include funding for green infrastructure components to reduce impervious surface and thereby ensure that more rainwater soaks into the ground and less is diverted into the sewer system. In addition, all four cities have plans to undertake significant grey infrastructure projects, including upgrades to sewer systems and sewage treatment plants. Collectively, these green and grey infrastructure projects are expected to significantly reduce combined sewage overflows into the Delaware River and result in improvements to its water quality.
With this background, the Water Center at Penn has embarked on a process to create a roadmap to water quality improvements to support recreation for the 27-mile stretch of the Delaware River from Philadelphia and Camden to Chester that would consist of three main components.
The first component is to assemble and analyze existing data characterize the current condition of the Delaware River with respect to water quality, both during dry weather and wet weather. This will accomplish two important outcomes, 1) it would identify when the water quality in the Delaware is safe enough for recreational activities, and 2) it will enable tools for altering potential users when the water quality would not meet the water quality standards for safe use. It will also provide stakeholders with visualization tools to promote understanding of where we are with respect to water quality, how far we have come thanks to improvements already implemented and how far we still need to go.
The second component of the roadmap for the Delaware River entails the development of tools to aid understanding of the expected positive impacts the combined sewer facility improvements already committed to by Camden, Chester, Gloucester, and Philadelphia, but not, as of yet, implemented. This will work to will show which planned improvements could have the most positive impact upon water quality and therefore, correspondingly, on recreational availability.
The third and final component of the report is a gap analysis to identify possible opportunities, beyond what has already been committed to, to further improve water quality, with corresponding estimates of both projected cost and benefits. The goal of the roadmap is to provide a science and fact-based menu of projects, both already committed to and not, with a corresponding cost and benefit analysis for each. This would allow all stakeholders to work together with a common basis of information to determine the best path forward for this zone of the Delaware River, on a triple bottom line basis of (in alphabetical order!) community benefits, cost, and environmental benefits.
Karl Russek is Director of Programs and Applied Research at the Water Center at Penn. Karl has over 25 years of experience in the areas of legacy pollutants, natural resources damage assessment, emerging environmental risks, industry/regulatory interface, and stakeholder management in the United States and globally. He holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Quality Science from the University of Alaska where he focused assessment and restoration of freshwater systems. He most recently founded and managed the international environmental business for a leading global insurer.
Andrew Kricun is a Senior Advisor at the Water Center at Penn working on various projects related to the Delaware River watershed. He is also a Senior Fellow with the US Water Alliance and a Senior Director with Moonshot Missions. Previously Andy was the Executive Director and Chief Engineer of the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, overseeing an 80 million gallon per day wastewater treatment plant in Camden, NJ. He graduated with honors from Princeton University with a degree in chemical engineering, holds a professional engineer’s license in civil engineering and is a board-certified environmental engineer. Andy serves on the New Jersey Environmental Justice Advisory Council and served on the board of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies as the chair of its Utility of the Future and Environmental Justice committees.
This seminar does qualify for 1.0 Professional Development Hour (PDH). A Certificate of Attendance will be available for AWRA-PMAS members only. The meeting price for non-members who wish to receive a Certificate of Attendance for the PDH is $10.00 ($3.00 for meeting + $7.00 for certificate).
Please note: Presentation is to be given through Zoom at the link below. PDH's will be issued through PDFs. Please allow extra time to register through Zoom and get software set up. Presentation will start at noon. Early participants will be in a Waiting Room until noon. Participants must email AWRA.PMAS@gmail.com to request PDH Certificate after the event.
Presentation at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87696247588