Mussel hatchery to be built to reduce pollutants in Delaware River

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — They were showing off their mussels - as in mollusks - at a historic garden in Southwest Philadelphia Tuesday as part of a clean water initiative. 

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary launched a ten-year comprehensive conservation and management plan to reduce pollutants in the Delaware River by adding more particle eating mussels.

"There's about 12 native species and all but one or two of those are very rare now and hard to find throughout the basin," said Danielle Kreeger, the science director for the nonprofit. 

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Kreeger says the number of mussel beds have dramatically decreased, and to bring back the numbers, a mussel hatchery will be built at Bartram's Garden as part of the plan.

"We take drinking water from the Delaware River. We have to filter all of those particles out, that costs money. If we can marshal the services that nature would provide in a natural system here including the freshwater mussel beds, it might help reduce the mechanical filtration costs," Kreeger said. 

Experts say one mussel cleans 10 gallons of water a day.

The hatchery is expected to be completed in a few years at a cost of $10 million to $11 million.