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Christie Whitman Visits Water Works

Release Date: 4/26/2001
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

PHILADELPHIA - U.S.EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today forged a partnership for pure water with the City of Philadelphia, saying she will encourage such partnerships across America.

At a groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center along the banks of the Schuylkill River, (former New Jersey) Gov. Whitman pledged her support for collaborative efforts that “use nature’s resources for society’s benefit without harming those resources.”

“That really is our challenge in America today, and I think we are more than equal to it. I look forward to forming partnerships with all those in America who are dedicated to making our water purer in the years ahead,” she said.

Arriving at the event along the Schuylkill River with the University of Pennsylvania women’s crew team, Gov. Whitman landed at the University of Pennsylvania boat house on Kelly Drive and toured the Fairmount Water Works, where she was to be joined by Mayor John Street in breaking ground to expand the interpretive center, to which EPA contributed a $200,000 environmental education grant.

In her remarks, Gov. Whitman paid tribute to the Frederick Graffs, father and son, who founded the Fairmount Water Works 180 years ago, creating America’s first major urban water supply system.

“They recognized the importance, long before most others, of striking the proper balance between the needs of society and the needs of nature. Their remarkable vision helped establish Philadelphia as a leader in both the industrial revolution and protecting our natural resources,” said Gov. Whitman.

The EPA administrator predicted that the new Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center will play a key role in helping visitors understand the importance of proper stewardship of Philadelphia’s precious water resources.

“Partnerships such as the one which is making this interpretive center a reality are exactly the sort of efforts I will be working to encourage as EPA administrator,” she explained.

EPA gave the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center a $200,000 grant to design exhibits that educate the public about the impact of watersheds, water supply, and treatment systems, particularly in urban areas.

The expanded interpretive center will include an urban watershed exhibit, a turbine technology exhibit, a classroom and an audio visual theater, interpretive displays, river balconies, an esplanade and a watershed technology center. After it opens on Earth Day 2002, it will be able to serve 100,000 visitors annually.

Since 1992, the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center has promoted stewardship of water resources by teaching children and adults to make wise decisions about water use and raises public awareness about the role the Water Works played in the development of Philadelphia.

For example, it’s a little-known fact that Fairmount Park was originally created in order to protect the Schuylkill River watershed. More than 150 years before the first Earth Day, Philadelphians understood the importance of clean, pure water to the quality of life.