Here are some examples of the wonderful conservation and restoration projects the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy and its partners and volunteers have achieved over the past few years. Thank you to all of our partners and volunteers for making these projects a success!
All TreeVitalize projects were made possible by the TreeVitalize Watersheds program, and the Plant One Million campaign, managed by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, with funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener program, as well as Aqua PA for projects located within its sourcewater protection zones.
With the help of a group of volunteers from GlaxoSmithKline, we planted 150 native trees and shrubs in this park along the junction of the Skippack and Perkiomen Creeks. Where before there were few trees and the park was mown up to the streambank, there are now many trees that will protect these two main waterways.
Bacteria Monitoring for PA DEP
See map of sampling sites.
Red sections of stream are not suitable for recreation.
In 2012, the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy was recruited to help the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) by sampling water at nine sites along the Zacharias, Skippack and lower Perkiomen creeks to assess water quality for recreational use. Fecal contamination is the most common pollution preventing water recreation, and swimming in high concentrations can cause illness. Therefore, the water samples were collected between May 1 and September 30, when most recreation occurs, and tested for fecal coliform bacteria, which could indicate the presence of fecal contamination, E.coli and other pathogens.
The Conservancy collected water samples at each of the nine sites five times between July 18 and August 13, and another five times between August 30 and September 25. Testing of the samples was performed by the Montgomery County Health Department and overseen by the Water Quality Supervisor.
Some fecal coliform is natural and expected to be found in waterways. The Pennsylvania water quality standard to protect water recreation provides that a geometric mean of fecal coliform bacteria over a 30-day period cannot be more than 200 colony forming units (cfu) per 100 milliliters (Pa Code, Title 25, Chapter 93, §93.7 Table 3). Fortunately, most sites the Conservancy sampled fell well below the 200 cfu geometric mean threshold and were recognized by DEP as attaining recreational use (see figure). A site along Zacharias Creek in Skippack Golf Course, however, and a site along Mine Run at Egypt Road were both found to contain a geometric mean greater than 200 cfu. For the Zacharias Creek site, the first set of five samples yielded a geometric mean of 611 cfu, while the second set yielded 884 cfu. The Mine Run site showed a geometric mean of 624 cfu for the first set, which decreased to 305 cfu for the second set. Another site along Zacharias Creek at Route 363 was also close to reaching the 200 cfu geometric mean threshold. Water recreation does not typically occur at these sites, and according to these results, it should not be open for recreation. Residents should also be aware of any potential contamination sources.
Fecal contamination of water bodies occurs several ways. Some contamination can be attributed to waterfowl or land animals like deer and raccoons. There are also many human activities that contribute fecal waste to waterways. Unintentional discharges of raw sewage from municipal sanitary sewers are common due to a variety of causes and can highly impact stream health. Home septic tanks that are leaking or improperly connected to a storm drain could add a large amount of contamination, since storm sewers lead directly to local waterways. If pet waste is not bagged and disposed of properly, rain could wash it into a storm drain or downhill to a creek. Other sources of fecal contamination include livestock grazing along a stream or manure being stored or used as fertilizer in the floodplain. Besides spreading pathogens among humans, fecal matter requires oxygen to break down, so it may reduce oxygen levels in streams enough to kill fish and other aquatic life.
Results from throughout the state will be listed on the 2014 Pennsylvania Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report, which is required by the Clean Water Act to report water quality status of surface waters every two years. The 2014 Integrated Report will be available to the public next year on DEP’s website at https://www.depweb.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/water_quality_standards/.
Rain Gardens on Souderton High School's SAVE Campus
This fall, students from Souderton High School's SAVE Club (Students Against Violating the Earth) helped install two rain gardens at the club's Environmental Campus next to West Broad Street Elementary School. The gardens were a prize for Souderton High School students winning first place in the PWC's stormwater video contest, sponsored by Verizon.
Skippack Meadows Riparian Buffer Restoration (TreeVitalize)
Folks from this neighborhood, with the help of many watershed volunteers, removed invasive plants in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and planted around 1000 trees to protect the water of the Perkiomen Creek. Merck, SEI, Seimens, and GlaxoSmithKline all sent volunteers throughout this 3-year project. Many community volunteers and local students also came out to plant.
Hoy Park, Lower Providence Riparian Buffer Restoration (TreeVitalize)
Schwenksville Meadow Park Riparian Buffer Restoration (TreeVitalize)
Volunteers from the Borough and throughout the watershed helped us to restore the buffer along the Perkiomen Creek and plant throughout this park behind the firehouse in Schwenksville. We planted 150 native trees and shrubs in the floodplain.
Improving Stormwater Basins in the Vineyards Community of Pennsburg
This community worked with us to regrade and plant three stormwater basins with 2500 native perennials and 111 trees. This project took a lot of planning, and four full days of work from eager volunteers in order to plant the basins. These naturalized basins will help protect the water of the Macoby Creek from polluted rainwater and provide habitat for wildlife.
Invasive European Water Chestnut Removal
Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy Rain Gardens
Thanks to our volunteers, and a DEP grant for Environmental Education, we now have three rain gardens helping to filter some of the stormwater runoff from our property. We also installed a cistern. Come check out our stormwater management techniques and learn more about rain gardens.
2012 Perkiomen Watershed Stream Clean-up
Every year we out-do ourselves. 2012 was another record-breaking year. See what we accomplished on our Annual Stream Clean-up page.
Hickory Park Riparian Buffer Restoration (TreeVitalize)
Thanks to around 30 volunteers, we were able to plant 350 native trees and shrubs along Swamp Creek in New Hanover Township's Hickory Park. The trees will help filter water in the floodplain, stabilize the stream banks to prevent erosion, and restore habitat for wildlife. Our trees are all doing very well, and we will continue to monitor their growth. Thank you to all the great volunteers, especially New Hanover’s Environmental Advisory Board members and Boy Scout Troop 30, for dedicating six hours of their Saturday to improve the health of Swamp Creek and the rest of our watershed downstream.
D'Lauro Preserve Riparian Buffer Restoration (TreeVitalize)
Watershed volunteers removed trash and an undergrowth of invasive plants, replacing them with native trees and shrubs. Ben Grosso completed his Eagle Scout project through his work on this reforestation project. He also installed level spreaders to prevent erosion, built bat boxes to provide new habitat space, and created a poster detailing our work
Stream Buffer Planting at 1014 North Gravel Pike, Schwenksville (TreeVitalize)
As part of this 2010 project, the Conservancy and volunteers planted trees and shrubs along an unnamed tributary of the Perkiomen. We worked with volunteers from the Merck to plant 30 trees and shrubs.
Lower Salford Township is Serious About Stormwater and Flood Control!
LST Parks Department and PWC partnered again to replant a native riparian buffer of trees, shrubs and flowering perennials to filter contaminants, reduce flooding, and increase wildlife habitat along a lovely stretch of the West Branch Skippack Creek at Kulp & Yoder Roads in Harleysville. In 2008, we planted almost over 200 trees and shrubs, in fall 2009 we planted over 300 more!
Stream Restoration in Milford Township, Bucks County
Public Works Director Dave Winkler and his crew brought new life to an old stream (a tributary of the Unami Creek) by removing years of accumulated silt and invasive plants, installing erosion control structures, and planting 480 native trees, shrubs, and live stakes.
Future Forests in Green Lane!
Between 2005-2008, Upper Perkiomen High School teachers Jim Coffey and Mike Tirjan and their Environmental Science students spent over 100 hours planting over 1,200 new trees at Knight Road, Church Road, Water Street and Ward Road sites in Green Lane. Staff from the Green Lane Nature Center helped install 1,000 feet of deer fencing to protect the plants. (A million thanks to Green Lane maintenance guys, Geoff Pieninck & Tom Oberholtzer for all their "behind the scenes" assistance.)
Signs of Re-Leaf
The "Former Collegeville Dam Streambank Restoration Project" was finally completed in 2007! With the aid of Montgomery County Parks maintenance staff, a colorful and informative educational sign is now installed near the creek along the Perkiomen Trail in Collegeville. The sign is located on the trail about ¼ mile south of the Route 113 overpass in Rahns. Stop by to bask in our appreciation for all of the wonderful volunteers that made this project possible!
Improving Stormwater Basins, Naturally!
It began with just one stormwater basin in the Mayfield Estates community (Schwenksville) in May of 2008. By the end of October, 2010 over 87 Mayfield Estates residents had "naturalized" all seven of their stormwater basins by planting them with almost 1000 trees, shrubs and flowering perennials. Now, instead of ugly mown-grass basins, these new plants will be allowed to grow, helping slow down, filter and absorb stormwater that used to flood those basins and the surrounding community. The filtered water absorbed into the ground helps recharge our groundwater supplies, providing water for our forests, streams and wells during droughts. The plants are a beautiful addition to the community and will attract valuable wildlife, such as birds and butterflies.