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Clean-up Kudos for Boathouse Row

Ever wonder how those water stations appeared along Boathouse Row, helping to rid the landscape of empty plastic water bottles and making it easy to refill your own? The idea  was the brainchild of Alan Robinson, implemented along with the Philadelphia Rowing Community and the city’s water department.  

Alan Robinson wins Award

Last week, the World Rowing Federation – the international group governing the sport of rowing – gave Robinson and the Boathouse Row community its first Sustainability Award. The idea is to honor those who work to “safeguard the environment in which rowing takes place and help their local environment,” the Federation noted.
With his background as an environmental consultant and his love of rowing ever since he rowed at the University of Pennsylvania, Robinson encouraged the rowing community to first pick up the litter. In 2016, they gathered 4600 plastic bottles. Then the city’s water department set up water stations along Kelly drive so people could refill their own bottles.

Scene before the cleanup

“You can’t tell people not to bring single-use bottles, if you don’t have an alternative, so we had the water stations,” Robinson said.  “The next goal was to have a zero-litter regatta, and now we’re starting to work on a zero-waste regatta, where food waste that can be composted is collected to reduce the waste stream.”
Important to the effort were the major regattas, especially the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta, one of the largest rowing events in the country.
“Love where you row!” is the campaign started by the HOSR  to encourage the thousands who race to reuse their bottles. 
“Each year since 2015, we have distributed approximately 10,000 reusable bottles to competitors and spectators and provided as much as 2,000 gallons of water over the two-day event,” said Ellen Carver, president of the HOSR. “We work very closely with city agencies, and our participants, to minimize waste and achieve zero litter goals.” 
The Stotesbury Regatta, the largest high school regatta in the world, which takes place every May in Philadelphia, has also embraced the single-use concept.
While still maintaining his membership in the University Barge Club, Robinson recently moved to Falmouth on Cape Cod, where he has transplanted his idea of water stations while plunging into that area’s environmental issues. 
So bring your own bottles when you walk/jog/bike/skateboard along the Schuylkill and refill them at these stations: