Pedaling popular with Pennsylvania young professionals Bookmark

Looking to engage young water professionals? Try offering bicycling and beer.

About 20 students and water professionals took part in a bike tour of historic Philadelphia water infrastructure sites hosted by the Young Professionals Committee of the Pennsylvania Section of the American Water Works Association (PA-AWWA).

Jon Martin and Pat Perhosky, PA-AWWA members and employees of the City of Philadelphia’s Water Department, provided historical and technical information at five stopping points during a six-mile ride along the Schuylkill River trail system.

“We started the tour at the Fairmount Water Works, which was a hugely popular tourist destination in the 1800s,” said Ben Deatrich, co-chair of the YP Committee. “At the time, it was a showcase for the cutting edge of water technology, and it evolved through several iterations, including steam pumps, water wheels and hydraulic turbines.” (Pictured, Jon Martin, right, leads PA-AWWA bike tour)

The tour leaders described how the Water Works significantly changed the landscape of Philadelphia and the Schuylkill River. In 1821, the Fairmount Dam was constructed to provide hydraulic power for its water wheels, creating a six-mile long pond upstream. After it was decommissioned, the Water Works was transformed into one of the first aquariums in the country, and then to a public swimming pool. Ultimately it became the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, still in operation as an educational and historical attraction.

The bike tour also included the Fairmount Fish Ladder on the edge of the Fairmount Dam, the Belmont Raw Water Pumping Station, the East Park Booster Station, and a park at the former site of the Spring Garden Water Works, once Philadelphia’s largest water pumping station. (Pictured, Pat Perhosky, facing forward, describes water infrastructure site)

As a bonus, the park happened to be that day’s location of a traveling outdoor beer garden, providing an ideal opportunity to end the event with some happy-hour networking.

“This event was an excellent opportunity to provide a close look at historical water treatment sites and learn from other knowledgeable young professionals who presented about each site’s history,” said Deatrich. “We hope to build on this success by increasing participation in our Section and becoming known for interesting and exciting opportunities to help young water professionals advance in their careers.”