The Fairmount Dam Fishway Is Open Again
Mayor Michael Nutter, U.S. Representatives Allyson Schwartz and Chaka Fattah and friends of the Schuylkill joined Philadelphia Water Commissioner Bernard Brunwasser at the official opening of the newly reconstructed Fairmount Dam Fishway on May 18.
Just a few feet below, the fish population had already discovered the new, improved fish ladder that bypasses Fairmount Dam and allows easy access to miles of river upstream. PWD aquatic biologist Joe Perillo expects that the new construction will provide improved hydraulics and increased flow to direct at least 45 varieties of fish through the ladder and up the river, including shad, herring and other migratory species who return to their birthplace to spawn.
Mayor Nutter called the project "another example of the great things we can accomplish with clear vision and team effort. Projects like these enhance the quality of life for the citizens of this great City and bring us one step closer to my goal of making Philadelphia the number one green city in the nation."
The new facility includes an outdoor classroom with amphitheater style seating, a video monitoring system with a live video feed into the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center and the Philadelphia Zoo. Commissioner Brunwasser hailed the new classroom as an innovative extension of the educational programs of the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center and its programs that promote public awareness of the Schuylkill River and its importance as one of the city's drinking water sources. The fishway has been rebuilt with new chambers, entrances and exits. The current of water, produced by the fishway, flows into the river from the fishway entrance and guides the fish through an entrance into the first of several chambers. The water levels of each chamber are slightly higher than the chamber before it, allowing fish to gradually swim upstream and bypass the dam.
Congressman Chaka Fattah and Senator Arlen Specter led the campaign to secure funds for the $3.3 million project. "A fully functioning modern ladder will improve the stock of fish above the Fairmount Dam by allowing them to get there," said Fattah. "More important, it will impact and improve the ecology of the Schuylkill River far beyond our city's boundaries. The shad, striped bass, river herring and other commercially viable and endangered species will finally be able to follow nature's imperative to head upstream."
The Philadelphia Water Department partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in the design and construction of the fishway.
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