My First Day: Learning about Upstream Philadelphia & the Delaware River Watershed Initiative

Emilie Wetzel
Jul 1, 2019

Blog by TTF Intern, Kerry Banford

On my first day as a TTF Intern on June 5th, I had the privilege of attending the Upstream Suburban Philadelphia Collaboration quarterly meeting. This meeting was held at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust and brought together leaders that participate in the protection of the Cobbs, Darby Pennypack, Poquessing, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford, and Wissahickon watersheds and accompanying waterways through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative.

These watersheds underlie many municipalities in the Philadelphia region. The waterways in these areas are at risk due to impaired streams that are greatly affected by urban stormwater runoff and excessive sediment and nutrient pollution. These pollutants have been entering our streams and affecting our watersheds for a long time, so it is critical to take action to protect them.

To begin the meeting, Patrick Starr, the Executive Vice President of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, gave a brief welcome and introductions and then the meeting was kicked into gear!

There was an open discussion in which many different topics and ideas were introduced and talked about, such as what has been done so far for our waterways, what more needs to get done, how organizations could reach out more to homeowners in their communities about their properties and what they can do to help, such as rain gardens and rain barrels, and much more. It was truly amazing to see all these wonderful minds coming together to brainstorm on different ideas and give advice on what they think is the right thing to do based on their experiences and knowledge.

One of the presentations that was of particular interest to me was by Dr. Laura Toran of Temple University, who spoke about chloride levels in the streams. Chloride has been found to be high all year round in the streams, instead of the expected highs in February to March since those months are when the streets are salted the most due to ice and snowfall.

From this data, it can be concluded that the chloride from the salt has infiltrated and accumulated in the soil; when water passes through the soil and enters streams, it washes the chloride from the soil and brings it into the streams, which is why the streams have been presenting such high numbers. I found this to be extremely interesting because only recently have I learned about the environmental hazards of salting roads and sidewalks, about which not many people are aware. This data showed me how much this is affecting our environment and that something must be done before the problem becomes even more of a threat.

Through this meeting, I was able to meet so many amazing people who are passionate about the protection of our streams and watersheds, and was able to learn about the organizations they are a part of and all the great work that they do, such as the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, Friends of the Poquessing Watershed, Temple University and many more.

Each organization has taken part in and has completed countless projects to help our waterways, building and restoring riparian buffers, stabilizing stream banks, monitoring sites for improvements in water quality, promoting and assisting in the planning and construction of rain gardens and getting people involved in wanting to care and do their part to protect our waterways through events, tours, etc. They all do such great and hard work, and I was sincerely astounded to hear about how much went into keeping our communities and waterways clean and safe.

I had such a wonderful experience at the Upstream Suburban Philadelphia Collaboration Meeting. It was truly inspiring to me to see how involved and how much these organizations really care about the pressing issues of our waterways and watersheds. I greatly enjoyed being able to participate in such an informative meeting that allowed me to get a sense of and learn about what goes on to be able to protect the environment.  I was honored to be able to meet so many amazing people who are such active members of their community and take part in bettering the environment every day.

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