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The City

Philadelphia Water Ways

A view of the Schuylkill River reveals how beautiful water in the city can be.

Philadelphia, located in Southeastern Pennsylvania, has two rivers. The Delaware River borders the city to the east, separating Philadelphia from neighboring New Jersey. Running through the city, the Schuylkill River flows South, eventually joining the Delaware River in the Delaware Bay.

This prime location, nestled between these two important rivers, was a great choice to build a major city. In fact, the natural environment has helped the city thrive for centuries.

The word Schuylkill, which has its origins as "schuyl kil" from the Dutch, means "hidden creek." Arendt Corssen, who explored the area for the Dutch East Indies Company, named it so because, as he saw it from the Delaware, the river was nearly hidden by thick vegetation. Today, of course, the Schuylkill River is not hidden at all. It is one of the most scenic waterways in the area.

If at all possible, make a visit to the Schuylkill River. Go and watch the water. If that's not possible, this gallery of images and information may help. Use the pictures to inspire ideas about water.

Schuylkill River Water Works and Spillway

The Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers flow naturally. There are also manmade waterways in Philadelphia. A popular and easily accessible one is the canal in Manayunk. Constructed in 1823, the Manayunk Canal is the oldest anthracite canal in the country. Part of your water tour of Philadelphia should be a visit to the canal. If that's not possible, this gallery of images and information may help.

Manayunk Canal

Another manmade waterway is Centennial Lake, located in the city's Fairmount Park. A team of students and staff members from The Franklin Institute have investigated the pond's ecosystem. The pond is a great stop on your tour of Philadelphia waterways, even if only here online.

Centennial Lake

Every day, in Philadelphia, the city's water department produces and delivers up to 680 million gallons of clean water. Plus, the water department is responsible for disposing properly of the city's wastewater. This number does not include the surrounding communities where water is supplied by other agencies, like the Philadelphia Suburban Water Company.

Citizens of Philadelphia are not the only people who depend on the water supplied by the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, however. So the Pennsylvania District of the U.S. Geological Survey also monitors the quality and quantity of the water supply. Regionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversees water resource management for the Delaware River Basin including the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers.

It is, however, the Water Treatment Authority that is most responsible for providing safe drinking water for families in homes throughout the city. Just how does Philadelphia get its drinking water? The process is amazing. Consider that it takes between thirty-four and thirty-nine hours for water to be processed from beginning to end. The beginning is the river. The end is your faucet. Just think. Each fluid ounce of water that we waste requires at least thirty-four hours to be replaced. Each gallon of water needlessly flushed away took thirty-four hours to prepare.

While the mighty Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers may seem to offer a limitless supply of water, citizens of Philadelphia should all try to conserve our most vital resource.