The Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center tells the story of the Schuylkill River and its human connections throughout history.
It is a valuable tale with timeless lessons about the need to balance the demands of development with those natural resources that make development possible.
With the river flowing along its buildings and the city skyline rising behind it, the Water Works bridges the natural and urban environments, as it has from the first.
For more than a century the Water Works supplied early Philadelphia with water pumped from the Schuylkill River. Safe water transformed all it touched, improving everything from fire protection to workers' health to manufacturing processes.
Through its detailed and faithful picture of watershed use, the Interpretive Center shows that our needs have scarcely changed in 200 years.
The Philadelphia Water Department provides the resources and guides at the Center. In fact, the Department sees the Interpretive Center as a means to achieving new levels of water quality.
To reach that end, the Interpretive Center has the mission, goals and commitment of being a place where visitors ultimately define the kind of environment they will leave to future generations.
Educate citizens to understand their community and environment, especially the urban watershed, know how to guide the community and environment in the future, and understand the connections between daily life and the natural environment.
By inviting visitors to discover the many facets of the urban watershed, the Interpretive Center clarifies how human activity affects our rivers and streams.
In that way, we work toward our goal of achieving and maintaining a healthy watershed. Which means we strive to reach all who have a stake in a robust environment — local communities, businesses, municipalities, recreational users, environmental nonprofit organizations, educators, land owners, water purveyors and government regulators.
We measure progress toward our institutional goal in a number of ways.
One is that all of our citizens understand the concepts behind a healthy watershed and put them to use in their everyday lives, making the small changes that make a difference.
Another way we'll know that we're making steps toward the Interpretive Center's goals will be further improvement in the region's water quality. That will mean we've met the challenge of educating the public about attaining the next level of water quality — reducing non-point source pollution — and achieving the goal of fishable and swimmable water quality.
And finally, we'll know the Interpretive Center has succeeded by the number of young people who choose careers in science, engineering and mathematics after being inspired by participating in the Center's programs.
Put simply, we are committed to having every visitor to the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center enjoy a stimulating, enlightening experience.
To honor that commitment, the Philadelphia Water Department has devoted its resources to the Center and its programs, including a pledge to fund the ongoing annual operating expenses of the Interpretive Center.
Even more important, the PWD provides the FWWIC with human resources — scientific, engineering and academic — to create a vital educational curriculum. Add the talent embodied by our educational partners and individual volunteers, and the result is engaging education based on solid science.
The result is more than an outstanding educational facility; the Center is also the means by which Philadelphia can reach the next, higher level of water quality.
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