PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Schuylkill River — hard to pronounce and spell but easy to enjoy — as it flows through Center City, is the focal point for events like regattas and joggers who run along its banks.
During this Earth Day Week, our Matt Petrillo is taking a look at how officials are working to make the Schuylkill even better while improving access for everyone.READ MORE: Philadelphia Mother Pleading To Find Driver Who Struck Son In Hit-And-Run, 'Guardian Angel' Who Found Him
Crew teams have recently returned back to the banks of the shimmering Schuylkill River. Rowers were hustling hard at practice on an April morning by Boathouse Row.
“This river means a lot,” Margaret Meigs said. “We’re in the middle of the city on this beautiful body of water.”
Meigs is with the more than 150-year-old Schuylkill Navy of Philadelphia, which oversees Boathouse Row.
“One thing the pandemic has taught us is being out in nature is critically important,” Meigs said.
Now, after months of planning, the largest collegiate rowing event in the world, the Dad Vail Regatta, is coming back to the river in early May.
The Stotesbury Regatta, the world’s largest high school regatta, is also making a comeback next month.READ MORE: Philadelphia's Evil Genius Beer Company Giving Out Free Beers To Those Getting Vaccinated In May
“We’re so lucky that they’re back. We’re sorry that we can’t have spectators for at least these spring regattas because of COVID safety, but we decided along with our partners in the city that it was very important to prioritize our athletes,” Meigs said.
Those races will be streamed online.
And there are other changes coming to the Schuylkill, too. Officials will soon restart a multi-million dollar project to deepen the river after more than a decade of silt buildup.
“Drudging has to occur every 15 to 20 years to keep the river free and row-able,” Meigs said.
The dredging is expected to restart over the summer after it was paused late last year.
And as that’s happening, officials are also striving to make more diverse crew teams so everyone can enjoy the Schuylkill River.MORE NEWS: Friday Night In New Jersey Looks Like Something Out Of 2019 As Restrictions Eased
“Philadelphia has a program, Philadelphia City Rowing, which is free to every single student in Philadelphia public and charter schools,” Meigs said. “The program has a 100% high school graduation rate. That was a key goal.”