Dear Jenkintown Creek Neighbors: An update

Julie Slavet
Mar 2, 2018

This blog shares the recent letter we sent to Abington Township Commissioners and the Township Manager to update their constituents about our work along the Jenkintown Creek. These projects are part of our efforts through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative of the William Penn Foundation.

February 13, 2018

Dear Neighbor:

Do you know the #1 source of water pollution?

It’s stormwater runoff, water from rain or melting snow that “runs off” across the land instead of seeping into the ground. It washes off driveways, parking lots, roads, yards, rooftops, and other hard surfaces. It picks up pollution, such as chemicals, bacteria, sediment, and trash, and washes these things into ditches and storm drains, and then into our creeks and rivers. Our neighbors and family in Philadelphia get about half their drinking water from the Delaware River, which is where the Jenkintown and Tookany Creeks flow.

Polluted runoff happens anywhere people use or change the land. In developed areas, none of the water that falls on hard surfaces like roofs, driveways, parking lots or roads can seep into the ground. These impervious surfaces create large amounts of runoff that picks up pollutants. The runoff flows from gutters and storm drains to streams. Runoff not only pollutes but erodes stream banks. The mix of pollution and eroded dirt muddies the water and causes problems downstream.

The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) recently completed installation of new green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) at Ethel Jordan Park.  GSI uses plants, soils, and other elements to restore some of the natural processes required to manage water and create healthier environments. Ethel Jordan Park is our fifth site in our award-winning multi-year restoration effort along the 3.6 mile Jenkintown Creek, in partnership with Abington Township as well as Abington Friends School and the Monthly Meeting, the Sisters of Saint Basil and Manor College, and McKinley Elementary School.

In September 2017, a rain garden and two road inlets were installed to direct runoff from Cadwalader Road.  The rain garden holds this water which flows from parking lots, roads, and rooftops.  Existing clay soils were removed and replaced with topsoil and sand, which are better at soaking up water. On the Osceola Road side of the park, a bioswale was installed which cleans runoff as it flows to the creek. Bioswales are rain gardens placed in long narrow spaces.

In November, we hosted a community planting day. Many neighbors and friends volunteered, planting 935 native plants! In the spring, a variety of blooming flowers will bring beauty and color throughout the growing season.

A monofilament line was installed to prevent geese from getting into the garden during the early phase of plant growth. Once the plants in the rain garden start to get bigger, the geese won’t be interested in entering the garden.

We will visit, monitor and maintain these rain gardens, just like we did with the planting along the creek. We are using a variety of equipment to make sure that the rain gardens work and to measure the changes in the health of the creek.

We hope you can take a minute to read the interpretive sign that we have installed! It celebrates the people and organizations that made this project possible. It also includes information about how you can improve our water, especially native plants that you can put in your garden.

Rain gardens are designed to drain in 72 hours or less once the plants are fully established.These rain gardens will not hold water long enough for mosquito larvae to complete their 7-to-12-day life cycle. Standing water in rain gutters, old tires and flower pots is much more likely to produce mosquitoes than a rain garden.

You might have noticed that we have installed some brightly colored pollinator hotels in the planting area along the creek. These provide habitat for solitary mason bees, beetles, and other helpful bugs that pollinate flowers. The fragrant flowering plants will also attract a wide variety of birds and butterflies.

Alverthorpe Park is the next site in this Jenkintown Creek Restoration effort. This spring, a trench will be installed to manage runoff from the main visitor’s 38,000 square foot parking lot. We will capture the parking lot runoff in this 200’ linear planted rain garden area with a stone trench below the surface wrapped in geotextile fabric.  These are permeable fabrics which, when used with soil, will filter and protect. The bioretention feature will be 6’ wide and 4.5’ deep. The lower 2’ will be the trench, followed by 1’-6” of soil amendments and 1’of storage.

Would you like to learn more? You can become a TTF Streamkeeper, a volunteer water quality monitor…you can help us maintain this or other restoration sites…you can serve as an Ambassador in your community for our clean water work. Contact us to learn more!

We look forward to continuing to work on Jenkintown Creek Restoration and collaborating with you, land owners and neighbors on future projects to improve the health of our environment. You can contact me at or 215-744-1853.


Julie Slavet, Executive Director

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