Giving Compass' Take:
- There are emerging natural restoration projects focused on reinvigorating plants and wildlife that will improve water quality of urban rivers.
- How can donors help bolster conservation projects that advance clean water efforts?
- Read more about clean water solutions.
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Upstream Alliance, a nonprofit focused on public access, clean water, and coastal resilience in the Delaware, Hudson, and Chesapeake watersheds. In collaboration with the Center for Aquatic Sciences, and with support from the EPA’s Mid-Atlantic team and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the alliance is working to repopulate areas of the estuary with wild celery grass, a plant vital to freshwater ecosystems. It’s among the new, natural restoration projects focused on bolstering plants and wildlife to improve water quality in the Delaware River, which provides drinking water for some 15 million people.
Such initiatives are taking place across the United States, where, 50 years after passage of the Clean Water Act, urban waterways are continuing their comeback, showing increasing signs of life. Yet ecosystems still struggle, and waters are often inaccessible to the communities that live around them. Increasingly, scientists, nonprofits, academic institutions, and state agencies are focusing on organisms like bivalves (such as oysters and mussels) and aquatic plants to help nature restore fragile ecosystems, improve water quality, and increase resilience.
Bivalves and aquatic vegetation improve water clarity by grounding suspended particles, allowing more light to penetrate deeper. They also have exceptional capacity to cycle nutrients—both by absorbing them as food and by making them more available to other organisms. Thriving underwater plant meadows act as carbon sinks and provide food and habitat for scores of small fish, crabs, and other bottom-dwellers. Healthy bivalve beds create structure that acts as a foundation for benthic habitat and holds sediment in place.
“Why not take the functional advantage of plants and animals that are naturally resilient and rebuild them?” says Danielle Kreeger, science director at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, which is spearheading a freshwater mussel hatchery in southwest Philadelphia. “Then you get erosion control, water quality benefits, fish and wildlife habitat, as well as better access for people.”
Read the full article about clean water by Katherine Rapin at YES! Magazine.