Riverfest 2022
Riverfest in 2022 took place at Penn's Landing. A Pennsylvania state grant will support Riverfest in 2024, among other initiatives in the Delaware Estuary. Photo by Meg McGuire

Pennsylvania DEP awards more than $500,000 in project funding to protect Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone

| February 17, 2024

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has awarded more than $573,000 to 10 projects to protect and restore the Delaware Estuary coastal zone, a 112-mile area in Bucks, Delaware and Philadelphia Counties that includes islands, marshes and other areas in the watershed.

“The Coastal Zone grants are aimed at supporting programs that measure the impact of various pollution sources, improve public access, preserve habitats, and educate the public about the benefits of the state’s coastal zones,” the DEP’s interim acting secretary, Jessica Shirley, said in announcing the grants

Coastal zones, where land meets the coast and includes both coastal waters and adjacent shorelands, are under increasing pressure from development, erosion, biodiversity loss and pollution. 

These grants are awarded to projects related to fisheries, wetlands, recreation, public education and coastal hazards, such as bluff recession. 

The grant recipients include: 

City of Chester: $40,000 to conduct the Chester Creek Trail Connector Project feasibility study. The City of Chester is divided by manmade features, including the I-95 corridor and the natural features of Chester and Ridley Creeks. 

Chester Creek runs through several parks, from Crozer Park to Eyre Park, and to Ethel Waters Park and the tidal Delaware River waterfront. A connected Chester Creek Trail could address this division by linking residents to the city’s natural and economic assets.  

Funds will be used to hire a professional design team that specializes in environmental restoration and trail engineering. The team will analyze opportunities for coastal resilience measures along Chester Creek and conduct a feasibility study of practical routes for the Chester Creek Trail connector.  

Cheltenham Township: $75,000 to conduct Phase 1 planning and design for the Robinson Park Wetland and Stream Restoration. Cheltenham Township will develop a plan to restore the 4.4-acre Robinson Park at the center of the Wyncote neighborhood. 

Approximately 100 acres of medium-density residential and institutional land use are currently discharging stormwater through the center of Robinson Park. Once within the park, stormwater flows concentrate and quickly flow downstream through a concrete channel sealed under a metal grate. 

Groundwater emerging from the adjacent hillside is held in a concrete-lined, unvegetated pond that is regularly warmed in the sun and covered with summer algae.

Downstream of the park, neighbors experience flooding from the accelerated runoff of stormwater from the fully developed upstream drainage area, which has no stormwater management features. This project will address these water quality, flooding, and habitat issues. 

The first phase of this project will design park renovations to improve water quality, mitigate flooding, enhance native habitat and connect the public to this important headwater. 

This design and engineering project will promote stormwater infiltration, evapotranspiration and filter runoff to prevent up to 13 tons of sediment from discharging annually to Tookany Creek and downstream to the Delaware Bay.  

Fund for the Water Works (Fairmount Water Works): $41,000 for planning and design of the Floating Water Workshop. Reflecting years of community input, the Floating Water Workshop will provide free or low-cost public access and education in two urban settings in which citizens have limited access to safe waterfront experiences. The 5,400-square-foot floating platform anchored on the Schuylkill River will be a unique mid-Atlantic amenity, providing education, enjoyment and contemplative space for people of all ages.  

Schuylkill River Development Corporation: $75,000 to complete final design of the Bartram’s to Passyunk segment of the Schuylkill Banks Trail. Schuylkill River Development Corporation has been working with Philadelphia to extend the Schuylkill Banks trail and greenway and its community, economic and environmental benefits to more residents in Southwest Philadelphia.

The corporation recently completed a study to extend the trail from its southernmost point near 61st Street to Passyunk Avenue.

The study revealed opportunities to expand access to nature and riverfront recreation within an underserved community and rehabilitate the industrial riverbank to better manage stormwater, reduce nonpoint source pollution, create healthy wildlife habitat and improve climate resiliency. 

John Bartram Association: $64,595 for the Community River Access Program along the Schuylkill River and Environmental Education at Bartram’s Garden. This project reflects two key components to strengthen and increase safe public river access at Bartram’s Garden for children and families.

Hands-on environmental education will be provided for up to 3,000 students annually. Staff educators will work closely with teachers and schools, libraries and other childcare providers to coordinate on-site lessons or classroom visits on a range of age-appropriate environmental topics. 

To ensure that students’ families also feel welcome during out-of-school time, this project will strengthen safe public river access with increased site and neighborhood outreach.

Partnership for the Delaware Estuary: $72,301 to conduct Delaware Riverfest 2024 events to educate the public about coastal recreation, historic sites and public access. The partnership will coordinate and host the Delaware River Festival 2024 at Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, in coordination with an event at Wiggins Park in Camden, N.J.

PDE will also collaborate with partners in Chester, Pa., to support a new Delaware River Fest along the Chester waterfront. Thousands of local residents will connect with their waterway through meaningful and engaging activities that are free, fun and designed to introduce them to the Delaware River, including boat/kayak rides; informational and interactive educational exhibits; mussel tank water quality improvement demonstrations; and water-related games. 

PDE and other exhibitors will increase visitors’ knowledge about, and interest in, the 57 miles of coastline within the Delaware Estuary portion of Pennsylvania’s Delaware Coastal Zone.  

Partnership for the Delaware Estuary: $70,796 for the Schuylkill Action Students-Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategy for Schuylkill Watershed Schools Initiative in Montgomery and Berks Counties.

PDE will work with partners in the Schuylkill River Watershed, including Montgomery County Conservation District, Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy, Green Valleys Watershed Association and the Chester County Conservation District, to identify and prioritize opportunities for green infrastructure installations on school campuses in the Schuylkill River Watershed to manage stormwater from these properties through the Schuylkill Action Students program.

The program is a multi-partner initiative of the Schuylkill Action Network aimed at implementing green infrastructure at schools to address stormwater concerns and serve as living laboratories for teachers and students.

Several projects will be selected for full engineering design to ensure they are shovel- ready once funding is identified. These projects will divert and filter stormwater, resulting in improved health of the Schuylkill River and the Delaware Coastal Zone while increasing protection of aquatic resources. 

PA Cleanways (Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful): $35,000 to conduct community cleanups and marine debris removal in the Delaware Estuary. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will work with local affiliates/partners to facilitate cleanups to reduce marine debris. 

Cleanups will be conducted in the spring or fall. Care will be taken to asses where trash originated from so prevention measures can occur, such as storm drain markings/stencils, or education about trash traveling through storm drains.  

Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission: $50,000 to implement the Coastal Management Program in the Delaware Estuary coastal zone. The commission will help implement the Delaware Estuary component of the DEP’s Coastal Zone Management program. The commission will coordinate with coastal zone constituents throughout the Delaware Estuary region. 

Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission: $50,000 to investigate multi-municipal planning efforts for Delaware Estuary coastal zone municipalities.To help municipalities meet their stormwater permitting requirements and improve water quality throughout the Delaware Estuary Coastal Nonpoint Pollution area, the commission will interview municipalities to determine their stormwater regulation needs and appetite to undertake shared projects. 

This project is envisioned as the first phase of a multi-year project that could involve joint procurement for professional services to design and implement green stormwater infrastructure. 

Chris Mele

Chris Mele

Chris Mele is a reporter and editor with more than 30 years of experience in news, specializing in investigative and enterprise reporting.

Leave a Comment