Nature’s Hidden Surprises: Watershed Dynamics

Julie Slavet
Sep 29, 2016

By TTF Intern Klavdiya Vasylenko

In August, TTF joined Judith Gratz for a morning nature walk where we learned about what affects our watershed systems, and engaged in fun educational activities.

We started the day by getting an introduction to what a watershed is and what makes the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford watershed different from others. We learned that while the TTF watershed may stretch over 33 square miles, we are still part of a much larger system. Considering that, we must keep our area as clean and sustainable as we can.



Healthy watersheds mean healthy people, but how do we keep our watersheds clean? Here are just four of the many ways small changes can have a large positive impact.

Riparian Buffers:

A riparian buffer is a heavily vegetated area along a stream. It plays a key role in improving water quality by filtering and absorbing the rainwater before it reaches the creek. This has a positive effect on plants, trees, and wildlife, providing an improved habitat for those in need.


If you live next to a stream, you can easily create your own riparian buffer. All you need to do is let the vegetation by the stream bank grow out by itself. Later you can add some native plants, trees, and grasses. Learn more about creating your own riparian buffer here.

Rain Garden:

A rain garden is a shallow, planted depression that absorbs the stormwater flowing from your roof or yard directly into the soil. It reduces and filters any pollution before it enters the creek by creating an effective and simple to manage landscape. Learn how to build your own rain garden here


De-Paving and Permeable Pavers:

Have a driveway that needs to be redone? Or thinking about repaving your back yard? Save some money and do what nature intended by depaving the asphalt and turning it into a lawn or garden.

You can also replace existing pavement a pervious patio or walkway which a great and unique addition to any home or landscape. By removing an impervious surface, water is able to be absorbed into the ground. This helps recharge the groundwater aquifers and prevents trash and pollution from entering our storm drains.

IMG_2096Rain Barrels:

Rain barrels are recycled plastic containers that help store rainwater from roofs to be reused again. The water saved can later be tapped to water gardens, and wash cars and patios. This allows the owner to not only save money on the water bill but decrease the impact stormwater has on our streams and rivers.

If you are interested in acquiring your own rain barrel you can get a free installation after attending a PWD Rain Check Workshop (must be a Philadelphia resident). Montgomery County residents can order one from TTF! Contact Alex or 215.744.1853.

I really look forward to our monthly walk at Tacony Creek Park. It’s really nice to get away from the busy city, even if it’s just for a few hours, and get to learn about all the hidden surprises that nature holds. Judith ended the day with a fun, educational activity focusing on understanding how a watershed may be made up of smaller section, but is actually part of a much larger system. So technically, we all live downstream!




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