Schuylkill River slime is doing more good than harm, officials say

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It's a startling sight for anyone driving or walking along the Schuylkill River - a layer of green forming over the water along the riverbanks. (WPVI)

It's a startling sight for anyone driving or walking along the Schuylkill River - a layer of green forming over the water along the riverbanks.

It may look bad, but officials say it is neither dangerous nor unusual.

From a far, the green layer of growth looks sort of pleasant to some.

"I mean from this angle, it looks like a golf field to me," said one passerby.

But up close you can see it's trapping garbage, covering poor turtles and really making a mess, especially for rowers surrounded by it at the Boathouses.

"Rowing up in this, all these big sticks, logs bottles, has really become a big problem on the river," said John Ryan, Fairmount Rowing Association. "You got to really keep your eyes open."

Before John Ryan and his rowing mate could actually start their session, they had to struggle through it to open water.

"Just rowing along, if your oars get pulled out of your hands, you're tipping," said Ryan.

According to the Philadelphia Water Department, it's called Duckweed - it is not an algae bloom.

"Duckweed does not hurt the river. It's actually an indicator of a healthy ecosystem," said Kelly Anderson, Philadelphia Water Department.

When you touch it, it sort of just breaks apart all over the place, but the Philadelphia Water Department says it is harmless to the river, and unlike algae, it doesn't even impact the oxygen level in the water.

Paul Horvat with the Schuylkill Navy says they've tried to fight the duckweed off as best they can.

"We had a bunch of volunteers in the last months. Definitely working to clean this up, move it around," said Paul Horvat, Schuylkill Navy.

What they could really use is some big time rain to help wash it down stream.

"If we get a big topical storm event that'll be great. A lot of people don't like it, but for us it'd be good and clean it all out," said Horvat.

Although the green layer has grown in size lately, officials say once the water temperature drops, you'll see it start to go away pretty quickly.
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