Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Drink Up: Volunteer crews head to the DeHart Reservoir this weekend to protect Harrisburg’s drinking water source.

Volunteers will visit the DeHart Dam and Reservoir this Saturday for DeHart Day.

Volunteers get the chance to see where Harrisburg’s drinking water comes this Saturday at Capital Region Water’s second annual DeHart Day at the DeHart Reservoir property in Dauphin County.

Located about 25 miles north of Harrisburg in Clarks Valley, the 6-billion-gallon DeHart Reservoir provides the city’s potable water. Volunteers will collect litter, tour the property and eat a pizza lunch at the free event.

“DeHart Day is our opportunity to show our customers firsthand where their drinking water comes from, the work that goes into safeguarding the pristine DeHart Reservoir, and what they can do to protect this valuable resource,” Capital Region Water CEO Shannon Gority said in a prepared statement.

The event begins at 9 a.m. at the DeHart Reservoir property. Attendees will spend the morning gathering litter from a segment of Route 325, CRW’s adopted highway that runs adjacent to the reservoir.

At 11 a.m., attendees will receive a free lunch from Dauphin Pizza and a tour of the DeHart Dam and Reservoir. The event gives Harrisburg residents a rare opportunity to tour the secured facility’s inner workings.

CRW will provide transportation to the reservoir from its customer service center at 100 Pine Dr., Harrisburg, leaving promptly at 8:30 a.m. T-shirts will be provided.

“We didn’t want transportation to be a barrier for anyone to participate, because obviously the DeHart facility is not in the city,” said Tanya Dierolf, CRW sustainability manager.

The first annual DeHart Day in 2016 had 40 participants, and organizers expect attendance to rise this year. This growth in popularity has positive effects, said Dierolf, but the event has a registration limit for safety and logistical reasons.

“Because we do have people on the road, we have to be very careful,” she said. “Safety is paramount.”

CRW took over Harrisburg’s drinking water, wastewater and storm water systems in late 2013 as part of the city’s financial recovery plan.

DeHart Day falls into CRW’s greater effort to protect the reservoir and surrounding forest. Last fall, it gave up development rights to preserve the DeHart Reservoir area.

So far, CRW has permanently preserved almost 4,000 of the property’s 8,200 acres by partnering with Fort Indiantown Gap, the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation and the Nature Conservancy.

While CRW receives financial compensation for giving up these rights, “it does provide us the opportunity to continue owning and operating as we have been,” said Dierolf.

Capital Region Water also hosts monthly “Two-Minute Tuesdays” in partnership with local volunteer coalition Clean and Green Harrisburg.

“DeHart day is protecting the source of our drinking water,” said CRW community outreach manager Andrew Bliss. “This Two-Minute Tuesday cleanup is more about protecting our local waterways and our local infrastructure here in Harrisburg.”

One Tuesday a month, CRW uses social media to post about litter clean up in Harrisburg. Later that day, representatives go into a Harrisburg neighborhood, knock on doors and try to get as many volunteers as they can to participate in a 30-minute litter cleanup in their area.

“It’s amazing how much you can really clean up in just 30 minutes,” Bliss said.

May’s Two-Minute Tuesday will be held in the area of 13th and Walnut streets at 5:30 p.m. on May 16.

Registration for DeHart Day 2017 closes today. To register, visit https://capitalregionwater.com/dehartday/#sthash.MhwScxk7.dpbs.

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