Riparian Buffers

Rainwater carries chemicals, trash, and other materials over land and into storm drains and creeks, adversely impacting waterways, plants, and wildlife. Riparian buffers help absorb and filter rainwater before it reaches the creek.

If you live next to a stream, you can easily and inexpensively create your own riparian buffer. Instead of mowing right up to the water’s edge, simply let the vegetation on the streambank grow out on its own. Once your riparian buffer begins to take shape, you can add native plant species of your choice and remove harmful or invasive species. Learn more about creating your own riparian buffer here.

In addition to beautifying our watershed, buffers play a key role in improving water quality in streams and rivers, providing several benefits:

  • Increased on-site stormwater infiltration
  • Decreased non-point source pollution
  • Prevention of excessive downstream flows
  • Decreased water temperature through shading
  • Improved habitat for wildlife
  • Increased opportunity for watershed education

Glenside Riparian Buffer with sign
Riparian buffer with educational sign at Glenside Elementary School in Cheltenham

Download the TTF Riparian Buffer Brochure [.pdf].


Here is  TTF’s Statement in Support of Adoption of Riparian Corridor Conservation District Ordinance by Cheltenham Township.

TTF has created two riparian buffers with the Cheltenham School District. These projects were initiated by teachers, implemented by community partners, and assisted by students. These native plants provide much-needed buffers between the school lawns and creeks:

Glenside Elementary School: We created a 10,000 square foot riparian buffer, outdoor classroom and native bird habitat.

Cedarbrook Middle School: We installed a 15,000 riparian buffer and outdoor classroom along Rock Creek, a first order stream of the Tookany Creek located behind the school.


Read Penn Future’s Stream and River Buffers: Fact vs. Fiction

Here is TTF’s joint testimony with Friends of the Wissahickon for the 50 ft. buffer zone around Philadelphia’s waterways.

For an overview of everything residents can do to manage stormwater on their properties, visit the Philadelphia Water Department website or download the Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater Management.