By Ryan Neuman, Upstream Conservation Leader
This Spring, we hosted a workshop at Manor College in Jenkintown to unveil the beginning of a new program called Stream Smart. Stream Smart is a collaborative effort across the entire Upstream Suburban Philadelphia Cluster of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative that tackles stormwater runoff from the residential properties that make up most of the area’s land use.
Stream Smart is funded by a Delaware River Restoration Fund Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and provides financial and technical assistance to residents to install green stormwater infrastructure on their properties. Green stormwater infrastructure includes rain gardens, riparian buffers, native plantings, de-paving, flow-through planters, and bioswales. Which are all fancy words for types of plantings and structures that capture and filter rain or snow melt called “stormwater.”
Stormwater is the major cause of water pollution in the Upstream Suburban Philadelphia watersheds impacting Jenkintown Creek. When rain falls on roofs, streets, and parking lots, the water can’t soak into the ground. Stormwater drains through gutters and sewers before it’s discharged, eventually, into Jenkintown Creek. This stormwater runoff carries trash, motor oil, and other pollutants from the urban landscape. Heavy rain also causes erosion and flooding of our creeks, which damages habitat and property.
We conducted eleven site visits that consisted of speaking with owners about ways that stormwater can best be managed; and this Fall four properties were selected to have green stormwater infrastructure projects installed for little to no cost. The installation of these projects was completed by Nativescapes LLC and community members participated in the plantings.
One project was along Meetinghouse Road near Abington Friends School in Jenkintown. This property had a roughly 8,000-square-foot driveway that drained motor oil into the creek when it rained. To address the issue, we installed a 305-square-foot linear channel, called a bioswale, parallel to the driveway to manage water flows. Members from across the community planted native plants in the newly installed channel in late October 2019 during our community planting day. Over 250 native plants were put in the ground that day, including bluestar, bee balm, blazing star, aromatic aster, beardtongue, soft rush, coneflower, false indigo, and a large red osier dogwood.
Another Stream Smart project was installed along Township Line Road and it consisted of a 1030-square-foot rain garden and 800-square-foot riparian buffers planted on either side of Jenkintown Creek. The rain garden and riparian buffers will absorb rain and snow melt from the residence’s 2800-square-foot roof. Community members also took part in plantings on this property during October’s community planting day. Over 350 native plants and over 15 native trees and shrubs were planted that day, including bluestar, blue flag iris, bee balm, sweetbay magnolia, flowering dogwood, and black chokeberry.
Our stormwater work in the watershed isn’t over yet! This Spring marks the next cycle of Stream Smart projects.
Know a homeowner interested in working with us to help improve the health of Jenkintown Creek? Please apply for an audit!
Curious about what all of these stormwater projects look like? Check out more photos here.