In addition to enjoying a great lunch and great company, we learned the history of Philly’s drinking water, acquired a deeper appreciation of the environmental impact of water waste, and toured the city’s newest mussel hatchery.
The challenges of sourcing clean drinking water will become more complicated in the years ahead due to climate change. According to Philadelphia Water Department, impacts may include:
- Higher air temperatures – Increased air temperatures naturally raise the temperature of our source waters, potentially impacting aquatic life and creating new challenges for the drinking water treatment process.
- Sea level rise – As sea levels rise, the mixing zone, also known as the salt line, where fresh water and saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean meet, could creep far enough upstream to reach PWD drinking water intakes, threatening to impact our drinking water quality. Sea level rise coupled with extreme storms could also increase flooding and coastal erosion. (Check out these scary predictions of sea level rise in 2100 for Philly.)
- Increased Rain and Extreme Storms – Increased rain and storm intensity leads to more stormwater runoff which negatively affects the quality of our source waters, stresses drainage systems, degrades streambank stability and could lead to more combined sewer overflows. Severe weather may also lead to increased flooding, threatening aging infrastructure, critical facilities, and private property.