PENNSYLVANIA:  Schuylkill Watershed

   Schuylkill Action  Network - A Watershed Source Water
   Protection Program


   In the past 30 years, the health of the river and its tributaries has changed dramatically.
   While dissolved oxygen has increased due largely to the Clean Water Act, a variety of
   land activities have degraded the streams in the watershed. Major contributors include
   agricultural practices, storm water runoff, sewage overflows, Polychlorinated Biphenyls
   (PCBs), and abandoned mine drainage. The Pennsylvania Department of
   Environmental Protection in their 2004 Section 303d list and Section 305b Report of
   Water Quality listed approximately 900 miles of streams in the watershed as impaired for
   aquatic life use.  The primary sources of these impairments were stormwater runoff,
   inappropriate agricultural practices and abandoned mine drainage.  The structure of the
   technical workgroups was organized to address these issues.

   Location: The Schuylkill River Watershed is located in southeast Pennsylvania and
   includes parts of 11 counties. The river travels approximately 130 miles from its
   headwaters at Tuscarora Springs in Schuylkill County to its mouth at the Delaware River
   in Philadelphia. The Schuylkill River is the largest tributary to the Delaware River and is
   a major contributor to the Delaware Estuary. The river's watershed encompasses an
   area of approximately 2,000 square miles. The Schuylkill watershed provides habitats for
   a variety of warm water, cold water, and migratory fish. Numerous dams block fish
   passage throughout the watershed. One-quarter of the Schuylkill watershed has been
   designated as "High Quality/Exceptional Value" by the Pennsylvania Department of
   Environmental Protection. About one-third of the watershed is listed as impaired for
   aquatic life use.  The mainstem of the Schuylkill was the first scenic river designated
   under the Pennsylvania Scenic Rivers Act (in 1978).

   Water Supply: The Schuylkill River has been an important source of drinking water in the
   region for over two centuries. Over 1.5 million people receive their drinking water from
   the Schuylkill River and its tributaries including the cities of Philadelphia, Phoenixville,
   Pottstown, and Reading.

   Source Water Assessment: Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) conducted the
   Source Water Assessment  for the Schuylkill River.

   Source Water Protection: PWD identified the entire Schuylkill River watershed as its
   source water but because it lacked authority to address the major threats, the PWD
   solicited help from the USEPA to develop a Source Water Protection Plan.

   Priority Contamination Threats

   The priority contamination threats come from stormwater runoff, inappropriate
   agricultural practices and abandoned mine drainage.
Office of Water (4606M)                      816F10044                             January 2010

   Local Team and Developing the Protection Plan

   In the spring of 2003, the USEPA convened the Schuylkill Action Network (SAN) as a
   pilot project for stakeholders developing and implementing multijurisdictional source
   water protection strategies. It is composed of 250 members from about 70 different
   organizations which include governmental agencies (federal, state, and local), non-profit
   groups, industries, water suppliers, and private citizens. The SAN organization structure
   includes an Executive Steering Committee, a Planning Committee, five technical
   workgroups (Abandoned Mine Drainage, Agriculture, Pathogen/Compliance,
   Stormwater, and Land Use), and support teams for education/outreach, data, and

   SAN's structure facilitates the implementation of a grassroots action plan. In addition to
   a Steering Committee and a Planning Committee staffed by USEPA, the Pennsylvania
   Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), PWD, and the Delaware River Basin
   Commission, four workgroups craft solutions for each of the four primary threats to
   source water (agricultural runoff, acid mine drainage, pathogen/compliance issues, and
   stormwater runoff). Two other teams include a Data Team and an Education/Outreach

   Management  Measures

   PWD, with input from others including USEPA and PADEP, compiles information on
   water quality, stream impairment, land use, source activities, funding, and protection
   activities to prioritize areas for restoration and protection.  The workgroups have
   established discreet objectives and tasks to mitigate the threats  for which they are

   The goals of the SAN are as follows:

         Improved Watershed Health
          Restoration of all impaired stream miles to attain their designated uses;

         Improved Public Value
          Significant  improvement in  public perception of the Schuylkill River as a vital
          regional natural resource that should  be protected;

          A return to  the river by the public for the purpose of recreation, sport and

         Safer Drinking Water/Reduced Need for Treatment

          Reduction in annual pollutant loadings to source water due to source water
          protection efforts;

          Reduced treatment cost through improved source water  quality.

          Costs to implement the action plan are covered by a number of sources,
          including a $1.15 million Targeted Watershed Implementation Grant from EPA for
Office of Water (4606M)                       816F10044                             January 2010

          work on 36 restoration projects and $200,000 from PADEP's Growing Greener
          program for the Pine Knot-Oak Discharge Tunnel.

   Other progress to date includes the following actions:

         Helped establish the Exelon Restoration Fund for the Schuylkill River (about
          $150,000 annually);

         Installed 15,000 feet of stream bank fencing and riparian buffers in the

         Completed conservation plans for 10 farms;

         Received $95,000 grant from Pennsylvania to prioritize land preservation areas
          based on habitat and drinking water use protection;

         Held forums on source water protection, proper operation and maintenance of
          sewage collection systems; and

         Led 3 workshops on watershed education.

   In addition to the above actions, the Schuylkill Action Network has an early warning
   system - about 12 of the 30 suppliers have bought into it. .

   Measuring Program Effectiveness

   Success is measured in many ways. About 40 different projects were funded under the
   $1.15M Targeted Watershed Implementation Grant. Other successes are:  installation of
   BMPs, monitoring (before & after studies), and state assessments. Each workgroup has
   completed annual progress reports.  The 2006 (January report) progress report is posted
   on the website -

   For Further Information, Contact:

   Paula Conolly
   Philadelphia Water Department, Office of Watersheds
   Source Water Program
   1101 Market Street, 4th Floor
   Philadelphia, PA 19107
   Phone: (215)208.3589
   Fax: (215)685.6043

   Chuck Kanetsky
   Source Water Protection Team Leader
   U. S. EPA Region III
   Drinking Water Branch (3WP22)
   1650 Arch Street
   Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
   Phone: (215) 814-2735
   Fax: (215)814-2318
Office of Water (4606M)                       816F10044                             January 2010

    Or, visit the webpage at
Office of Water (4606M)                           816F10044                                  January 2010