Scientists from the Philadelphia Water Department, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University are hard at work inside our laboratory. They are contributing to current research that will help inform future decisions about wide-scale use of mussels throughout our watershed and beyond. The goal of this work is to find new ways to improve the health of our watershed through the support of ecosystems that clean our rivers and streams naturally.
The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) has been leading the regional effort to conserve existing freshwater mussel populations and restore native mussels in the Delaware River basin. The Freshwater Mussel Recovery Program, which they have spearheaded, includes activities such as:
Conducting scientific surveys (PDE and Academy scientists) to find existing mussels and collect data on their abundance, distribution, and overall health. Knowing where mussels do and do not live helps identify where they need protection or restoration. Candidate streams for restoration, such as those that once held mussels but do not anymore, are then screened and prioritized by tracking the health of small numbers of mussels that are reintroduced and monitored. PDE organizes freshwater mussel workshops that train citizen scientists to help in these efforts.
Measuring how much water mussels can clean while finding ways to improve mussel habitats. PDE works to understand, conserve, and restore native freshwater mussel populations to improve ecosystem health, including cleaner water and better habitat for other animals — from the streams to the ocean.