Philadelphia’s Marine Pollution – What Do We Know and What Do We Need To Find Out?

Philadelphia has plenty of street litter. Here’s an example of litter near a PWD stormwater inlet.

This litter will flow into the stormwater inlet. Some of it will pass through the inlet trap and enter PWD’s combined sewer system. 

How much of it will overflow through PWD’s T-03  CSO outfall?  Of the portion that overflows to Tacony Creek, how much will get trapped in Tacony – Frankford Creek and how much will flow into the Delaware River?

Unfortunately PWD, PaDEP, DRBC and EPA do not know.

We can always learns from others. Let’s take a look at recent research from the Thames River in the UK.  Here’s the headline from a recent Environment News Service article on plastic pollution at the bottom of the Thames River.

(Click the image to go to article)

UK scientists placed eel fyke nets at the bottom of the Thames at 7 locations. 8,400 pieces of litter were trapped in the 7 nets over a 3 month period from  Sept. to December, 2012.

Eel Fyke Nets used to trap plastic along Thames river bed

“The waste collected for the study is only a small snapshot of the volume of litter that may exist at the bottom of the Thames.

Plastic bags and other large items are unlikely to get caught in the small nets, so the true extent of the problem is still unknown, the researchers said.”  ENS, 1/2/14

We have a great deal to learn about green stormwater. My Tookany – Tacony Creek trash surveys demonstrate that PWD discharges large quantities of street litter to the Tookany – Tacony Creek. The Thames study shows that this some of this litter will make its way to the Delaware where it will move along the River – Bay bottom and pose a threat to aquatic life.


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