PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A multi-million dollar dredging project is coming to the Schuylkill River this summer the city announced Monday in an effort, officials believe, will improve sustainability and racing conditions for future regattas.
The city says it has been 50 years since the racecourse on the Schuylkill River was dredged, and in that time pollution has put the river's recreational use in jeopardy.
"The remnants of Hurricane Ida brought stark levels of rain to southeastern Pennsylvania, causing extreme flooding, especially along the Schuylkill," said Mayor Jim Kenney, during a press conference announcing the funds.
He said flooding brought the river's sustainability issues into focus. Now, the federal government is intervening.
"Today is a good day for the city of Philadelphia," said Senator Bob Casey, who announced $13 million in funding to dredge the river near Boathouse Row and the racecourse. The process will remove sediments and debris.
"It will preserve the health of the river and make it more navigable, so we can continue to see the benefits of all that happens behind me," he said.
This is a project previously planned years ago, but stalled out in 2020 due to a disagreement with the city's contractor. The city says it's confident the dredging will happen this time with the Army Corps of Engineers overseeing.
"By investing in the river, we are preserving our city's history as the birthplace of American rowing," said Kenney.
Every year, the river hosts more than 20 regatta events, featuring high school and college athletes from Philadelphia and around the world. The city says the races are crucial to the overall economy.
"They bring so much revenue to the city, they really do, because people come and they visit and they spend that money all over the place, so it is so welcome," said City Council President Darrell Clarke.
The parks and recreation department says the dredging will happen in two phases. The first will be after July 1 and focus on Boathouse Row.