Stream Smart Homeowners Improve Local Creeks!

Rachel Hess
Sep 24, 2020


By Ryan Neuman, Upstream Conservation Leader

This past spring was the second cycle of the Stream Smart Program. 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 to provide financial and technical assistance to residents to install green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) on their properties. GSI includes rain gardens, riparian buffers, native plantings, de-paving, flow-through planters, and bioswales. These are all fancy words for plantings and structures that capture, slow down, and filter rain or snow, also 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 storm sewers before it is discharged, eventually, into Jenkintown Creek. This stormwater runoff carries sediment, trash, motor oil, and other pollutants from the urban landscape. Heavy rain also causes erosion and flooding, which damages habitat and property.

This past winter and spring, we conducted six site visits, speaking with property owners about the best ways to manage stormwater. Two projects were installed this past spring. The first was a 750-square-foot bioswale at Abington Friends School, adjacent to the existing rain garden. This swale manages 16 acres of additional stormwater flows from adjacent residential properties. These properties were mailed an informational letter explaining the project, and how they become involved in managing stormwater on their properties.

The second project installed this spring was a 4,000-square-foot riparian buffer, consisting of understory trees and shrubs. A riparian buffer is a planting of native trees and shrubs which helps maintain streambank stability, shades and cools creeks, and filters water before entering the creek. A mixture of 45 smooth alder, serviceberry, redbud, silky dogwood, black gum hop hornbeam, and arrowwood were planted. These native trees and shrubs restore original forest cover and provide habitat for wildlife.

For more information about the first Stream Smart projects, read Jenkintown Creek Neighbors are Stream Smart and Stream Smart Spruce Up Along Jenkintown Creek.

Are you a homeowner interested in working with us to help improve the health of Jenkintown Creek? Please apply here for an audit!

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