Volunteer at the FWWIC
Volunteers make the Interpretive Center work. They spend countless hours making sure that visitors to the Center have the most pleasant, educational experience possible.
But it's hardly a one-way street. Our IC volunteers get an in-depth education about the Water Works and the science behind the Center's mission that few outsiders enjoy.
On three consecutive Saturdays in January 2004, the Interpretive Center and the Water Department sponsored training sessions that showed volunteers there's a lot more to the IC and the Water Works than interesting exhibits and beautiful buildings.
During the first session, the volunteers learned how yellow fever epidemics in the 1790s sent Philadelphia's civic leaders on a search for a supply of pure water and how they chose the Schuylkill River as the new source of supply. Our volunteers also took a narrated walking tour of the Water Works' complex of neo-classical structures.
Technology and science were the main topics of the second meeting. Volunteers learned, for example, the Water Works first used steam engines to pump water from the Schuylkill but that technology was replaced in turn by waterwheels and turbines. (In its heyday as a tourist attraction, it was the technology of the Water Works that fascinated visitors.)
Innovations in water-treatment and wastewater-treatment didn't end in the 19th century, of course. So our volunteer-trainees also received a short course on the high-tech methods used to treat drinking water and to clean up and return used water to our rivers.
The last session, led by the Water Department's Office of Watersheds, focused on the science of ecosystems and watersheds. Volunteers found out that industrial pollution of our rivers is no longer the main problem, and that what we put into our sewer systems and down our storm drains is. And those sources of contamination have big affects on the plants and animals that depend on the river.
So no matter how a volunteer serves the Interpretive Center, that individual sees the Water Works through a lens of very special knowledge.
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer call Emilie Hickerson at 215-685-0720 for training sessions.
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