Schuylkill River Heritage Area Receives Over $271,000 in Grants from Exelon
The Schuylkill River Heritage Area has received $271,148 from Exelon to bolster the Schuylkill River Watershed Restoration Fund --a fund used to improve water quality in the river and its tributaries.
This is the second year money has been available through the program, which was created by Exelon Nuclear in April 2005.
The Schuylkill River Heritage Area oversees the fund, distributing money annually to non-profit organizations and government agencies for projects that will enhance water quality and quantity in the Schuylkill River Watershed.
Exelon increased its contribution by more than $110,000 over last year, when $158,000 was donated. Exelon was able to contribute more money this year because weather conditions impact how the program is funded.
The annual fund is part of a demonstration project for what is known as the water supply program at Exelon Nuclear’s Limerick Generating Station. That program is under the purview of the Delaware River Basin Commission.
“This is good news for the river. It will mean that we can either fund more projects than we did last year, or that larger projects can be tackled,” said Kurt Zwikl, Executive Director of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.
The Schuylkill River Heritage Area will begin accepting applications for projects later this year.
Recipients will be selected by a committee made up of representatives from Exelon, the Delaware River Basin Commission, Philadelphia Water Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Environmental Protection and the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.
Last year, three projects were funded that enabled mitigation of agricultural pollution and stream bank restoration. All projects benefit the entire watershed because they reduce the amount of run-off and pollution that enters creeks, and ultimately, the river, which is a source of drinking water for over one million people.
In order to further protect and improve the watershed, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and Exelon hope to encourage more corporations to contribute to the program in the future
Limerick Site Vice President Ron DeGregorio said, “We are happy that we can combine environmental stewardship with community improvement. As a producer of safe, clean and reliable energy, it’s both our responsibility and honor to contribute to the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund. Its positive impact on the Schuylkill River basin will be felt for years to come, and we could not be more proud.”
Here’s how the water supply program works:
Exelon pulls water from the Schuylkill River to support Limerick Generating Station's cooling water needs. However, current DRBC regulations allow Exelon to withdraw water only when the flows are adequate and the temperature is below 59 degrees. In the past, Delaware River water was pumped 40 miles to the Limerick plant, generally from about May 1 to November 1, due to these restrictions.
During 2006 Exelon completed its fourth year demonstrating to the DRBC that Exelon can use various water sources to augment the Schuylkill River flow, and eliminate the temperature restriction. This reduces Limerick’s dependence on the Delaware River. Since this is more cost effective, a portion of all the money saved is redirected into the Schuylkill River Watershed Restoration fund. Exelon's yearly contribution is based on the amount of water that is not required to be pumped from the Delaware River or other sources.
This year, favorable weather conditions enabled Exelon to pull water from the Schuylkill River more regularly, thus increasing the amount of money it contributed to the fund.
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