Mussel hatchery to enhance river basin

Quentin Dodd
June 25, 2018
By Quentin Dodd
The mussels in the Delaware River Basin are about to get a helping hand.
Freshwater mussels are known as nature’s water treatment plants. Each mussel can filter up to 2200 litres (600 gallons) per month. The problem is that the Delaware River Basin isn’t producing the number of mussels needed to clean its basin and help keep the drinking water clean for the city of Philadelphia.

The good news is that recently the city of Philadelphia and five organizations — the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Independence Seaport Museum, and Bartram’s Garden — committed to creating a large-scale mussel hatchery to enhance the Delaware River’s mussel population.

The state has provided $7.9 million in funding through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, to construct a freshwater mussel hatchery which will be owned and operated by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

To be located at Bartram’s Garden, the hatchery will be part of a multi-site production and educational initiative called the Aquatic Research and Restoration Center. It is anticipated that construction will begin in 2019.

The enhanced mussel population will also contribute to the improvement of water quality farther downstream, in both the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Estuary, by filtering out nutrients - particularly nitrogen - that run off the land in the area of the watercourses.

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