Why can't you swim in the Delaware Philly River?

Why can't you swim in the Delaware Philly River?

Here is a picture: You are sitting on the rocks at Penn Contract Park. It is about a thousand degrees, and there are only a few steps away from the Delaware River which is compatible. What do you do?

If you live in Philadelphia for more than five minutes, the idea of ​​baking yourself in the Delaware probably chill down your spine. One hundred years ago, the portal was so toxic and killed the fish that lived there, and the smear was enough that pilots complained about flying over 5,000 feet.

But it is 50 years since the Clean Water Act was implemented to purge the flu. Development has gone on again along the banks, reuniting Philadelphians with a seaside river that was like a foul, distant dream.

Today, environmental experts note that the river has been the cleanest river for many years. But they are still nor advise you to go swimming in Delaware – yet, at least.

“Would I recommend that someone go straight out of Landing Penn and then swim?” Said Kate Schmidt, spokesperson for the Delaware River Basin Commission. “Even if it was okay for primary recreation, there are other issues that you need to think about.”

Let us get it out of the way: The whole stream suspects on fecal matter. Data from the Delaware River Basin Commission indicates that the part of the river that runs through Philly is almost four times the sewer than elsewhere. It is very bad after a severe rain storm.

“Fertilizer, dog prick, herbicides and pesticides come up to our landscape because of how people live their lives – which collects the storm water system and ends in the river,” said Maya van. Rossum, Delaware River Keeper head nonprofit Network.

Water under Ben Franklin Bridge
Michael Stokes / Flickr Creative Commons

Random debris often calls into the water, from litter that breaks the streets to derelict building materials on the seaward side. And while the Clean Water Act has helped – by treating wastewater before it goes to the river – it is not completely ready for the water of an industrial pollutant.

Other streams are a major concern for swimmers. The depths of Delaware fall from about 5 feet to 30 in a short distance from the shore – and if you go out so far, you get up against streams that are strong enough.

“We don't want people to think,‘ Oh, things have improved, and it's safe to swim, 'but don't underestimate the power of the water, ”says Schmidt. “People are drowned in the water without a life jacket on.”

Watch out for boats too, she said. Philadelphia is a major port, and if you are not careful, you could literally dip in a shipping channel and eliminate the gargantuan vessel completely.

For the record, Philadelphia is the only location along the Delaware River which was considered officially unsafe. The remainder of the waterway has been classified by the EPA in both directions as safely as possible for “primary recreation”.

To regulate the waterway 301 miles, the EPA divides it into six zones. Our acceptable city is firmly set out in Zone 3.

Think of it as the belt-not-submerged.

“Around Philadelphia, we say that secondary contact is okay, but not primarily,” said Schmidt. “That's because things like debris and combined sewer flow in the water.” T

Rather, the officials recommend boating, kayaking and perhaps some light wading near the shore.

But that may change soon. Local environmental advocacy groups are lobbying lawmakers to change the designation of Zone 3 which would mean that the portal would have to be cleaned up to the point where Philadelphians can harm.

Van Rossum, who gives a call to the Delaware River Forever, is in charge of the charge to approve bathing around Philly.

She thinks people are before use the waterway for primary recreation – so it should be safer to do it.

“The reality is that people are swimming,” said van Rossum. “We need this formal designation so that we are sure that people know that they are applying the best protection when they are out there.” T

To date, she has issued a recreation survey to people in the Philadelphia area to identify how they use the portal, and she asked Delaware River Basin Commission to change its designation.

Schmidt, from DRBC, agrees, “We are seeing that people are using the water for recreation of a more basic type of contact, such as jet skiing,” she said. “So if people are using this route, does the upgrade of that area need to be upgraded?”

The Commission is looking at it. They launched a new bacterial monitoring program in Zone 3. Five times a month, the DRBC team will examine eight points around Philadelphia for contaminants – and if they discover that the water is clean enough for the primary school, they will ask the EPA to change nominations.

Test points to measure whether the Delaware River is clean enough for swimming
Courtesy of Delaware River Basin Commission

“It's a process,” said Schmidt. “We need to collect more data and discuss more before we make a recommendation.”

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