PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of activists says the Schuylkill River is in such poor shape that future regattas may have to be moved. Philadelphia has a history of rowing that dates back to before the Civil War, but the activists say without something being done, the future could be in jeopardy.
“Everyone that’s had the opportunity to go out and row on a boat, it’s fun,” Al Wachlin said.READ MORE: 2 Off-Duty Philadelphia Police Officers Robbed At Gunpoint In Oxford Circle
But the fun times are in jeopardy of being destroyed.
Wachlin has been rowing at the Schuylkill since 1958, but he says climate change and development upriver are causing the condition of the river to get worse with each passing day.
“We have serious erosion problems as well as dredging problems,” he said.
Storms cause debris to flow downstream.
The river was to be dredged in 2020, but a contract between the Army Corps of Engineers and Contractor Atlantic Subsea was terminated mid-project.READ MORE: Police: Man Shot Multiple Times, Killed In Philadelphia's Kensington Neighborhood
The company said at the time they encountered larger objects than expected and couldn’t complete the work. But the Army Corps says they are committed to completing the project.
Without it, Joe Henwood, who’s rowed the Schuylkill since childhood says the river could be a sinking ship.
“I’ve had Schuylkill River water in my blood for a long time,” he said. “My whole family has. We love this place and we just don’t want to see it continue to go downhill like it has been.”
Henwood says the city could lose famous regattas if the project isn’t completed. The issue is boats and oars can run aground if the water isn’t deep enough. He says parts of the river is thigh deep.
“This is the center for rowing in the United States right here, has been for 160 years and it’s going downhill very fast,” Henwood said. “We have a national disaster going on right here on Boathouse Row right now.”
There’s no timeline on when the dredging project will be completed.MORE NEWS: EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Center City Hit-And-Run Leaves Woman In Critical Condition, Police Say
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation with the previous dredging company.