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Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center Flexes Its Mussels

(The Fairmount Water Works sits along the Schuylkill River, below the art museum.  File photo by John Ostapkovich)

(The Fairmount Water Works sits along the Schuylkill River, below the art museum. File photo by John Ostapkovich)

John Ostapkovich John Ostapkovich
John Ostapkovich brings humor and wit, and a wealth of experience...
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By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center hosts a very “muscular” event Saturday, celebrating the impact of freshwater mussels.

They’re not much to look at and not even good eating, but Lance Butler, the Philadelphia Water Department’s Watershed Protection Manager, says it’s tough to overstate the importance of freshwater mussels.

“One can filter up top 10 liters a day, one mussel, and we’ere finding beds of hundreds of thousands in certain locations. Albeit that their distribution is patchy, and one of the Water Department’s charges is to understand what are the governing forces that regulate where they are, how many they are and how healthy they are.”

Butler says, decades ago, pollution had nearly wiped them out. Nutrient runoff was consumed by microbes which sucked all the oxygen out of the rivers. Mussels also depend on fish for their reproductive cycle and so are both cause and effect of waterway recovery.

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