Published on February 2 2021

It’s World Wetland Day!

DRWC’s future South Wetlands Park will aim to recreate the intertidal zone that once fringed the Delaware River by repurposing the human-made elements of Piers 64-70 to allow habitats to flourish and the public to engage with this unique landscape. 

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Before these areas were bulkheaded in the 19th century, the South Philadelphia Delaware Riverfront below Washington Avenue was a wide expanse of tidal wetlands and small creeks called “Wicoacoa Meadows."

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Why is this important? Well, freshwater tidal wetlands provide food and shelter for shellfish, insects, fish, birds, amphibians, and other animals. But they also act as our buffer “sponges” that can protect communities against coastal flooding. Critical to moderating climate change, wetlands can also capture carbon and convert it into living plants and carbon-rich soil. 
Our plan involves creating zones of emergent freshwater vegetation by recontouring the pier berths and piers to achieve a more natural riverbank and improve tidal flow. Cooler flowing water is critical for species like the Alewife Floater mussels ecologist Jesse Buckner from Applied Ecological Services found along the Waterfront last Summer during field surveys. 
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Much of our work will be augmenting the natural processes occurring already in the land and water. We are following in the great footsteps of the Philadelphia Water Department, whose research scientists found the piers to be ideal spawning ground and refuge for fish species, a good sign of the river’s quality. 

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Thank you to William Penn Foundation, PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for believing in OLIN studio vision of an ecologically resilient Philadelphia waterfront and for supporting these conceptual plans