Schuylkill River Green­ways NHA con­trib­utes thou­sands for water qual­ity

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The Schuylkill River Green­ways Na­tional Her­itage Area re­cently dis­trib­uted grants to­tal­ing $378,671 to nine projects that will im­prove water qual­ity in the Schuylkill River.

The Schuylkill River Restora­tion Fund grants were awarded to six projects that will fo­cus on stormwa­ter runoff, aban­doned mine drainage and agri­cul­tural pol­lu­tion. Also awarded were three land trans­ac­tion grants that will help pre­serve crit­i­cal open space.

The grant fund is ad­min­is­tered by the Schuylkill River Green­ways. This year, funds were pro­vided by Ex­elon Gen­er­a­tion’s Lim­er­ick Gen­er­at­ing Sta­tion, the Philadel­phia Water De­part­ment, Aqua Penn­syl­va­nia and MOM’s Or­ganic Mar­ket.

About 35 peo­ple at­tended the grant an­nounce­ment at Sunny Acre Farm in Cen­tre Town­ship, Berks County, a 2017 Schuylkill River Restora­tion Fund grant re­cip­i­ent for the Ir­ish Creek Project.

The project in­cludes stream­bank sta­bi­liza­tion, in­creased ri­par­ian buf­fer along the creek, and cat­tle fenc­ing. Fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment, at­ten­dees toured the farm and wit­nessed first­hand the de­vel­op­ments that have been made to pro­mote restora­tion.

Speak­ers in­cluded Schuylkill River Green­ways Na­tional Her­itage Area Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Elaine Paul Schae­fer, Delaware River Basin Com­mis­sion Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Steve Tam­bini, Ex­elon Reg­u­la­tory As­sur­ance Man­ager Bob Dickinson, Kelly An­der­son with Source Water Pro­tec­tion of the Philadel­phia Water De­part­ment, Aqua Penn­syl­va­nia En­vi­ron­men­tal Spe­cial­ist Krista Scheirer, as well as Chris­tine Griese­mer and Kent Himel­right of the Berks County Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict.

“The work that the Schuylkill River Restora­tion Fund and our part­ners are do­ing is ex­po­nen­tially im­por­tant in to­day’s leg­isla­tive and reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment,” said Schuylkill River Green­ways Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Elaine Paul Schae­fer. “It’s now more im­por­tant than ever to show com­mu­ni­ties and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials the need for pub­lic in­vest­ments and poli­cies that pro­tect water qual­ity as well as pre­serve our nat­u­ral re­sources.”

Schuylkill River Green­ways Deputy Di­rec­tor Tim Fenchel an­nounced “In the 13 years of this pro­gram there have been over $3.6 mil­lion of con­trib­uted funds to the Schuylkill River Restora­tion Fund. Of the 75 or so projects that have been com­pleted, we’re al­most at the $5 mil­lion lever­age mark.”

Grant re­cip­i­ents were care­fully se­lected by an ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee con­sist­ing of: Ex­elon Gen­er­a­tion, Delaware River Basin Com­mis­sion, Philadel­phia Water De­part­ment, En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, Part­ner­ship for the Delaware Es­tu­ary, Schuylkill River Green­ways and Aqua Penn­syl­va­nia.

Delaware River Basin Com­mis­sion (DRBC) Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Steve Tam­bini said lo­cal rivers and streams such as the Ir­ish Creek and Schuylkill River have an im­pact on the en­tire basin.

“The Ir­ish Creek Wa­ter­shed flows into the Schuylkill River which is 2,000 square miles of wa­ter­shed serv­ing about 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple in water sup­ply. What hap­pens here in the Ir­ish Creek Wa­ter­shed im­pacts the Schuylkill and what hap­pens in the Schuylkill cer­tainly im­pacts the Delaware River Basin and the al­most 15 mil­lion peo­ple who get water from the Delaware,” Tam­bini said. He added, “Since 2006, over 100 projects like the Ir­ish Creek Project have been im­ple­mented in the river sub basin to im­prove the water qual­ity.”

The grant re­cip­i­ents are:

• Berks County Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict, $47,250, for the Chavous Eques­trian Ag Project to help im­ple­ment best man­age­ment prac­tices on an eques­trian board­ing op­er­a­tion. The goal is to re­duce ac­cel­er­ated ero­sion, sed­i­men­ta­tion and nu­tri­ent runoff caused by over­grazed pas­tures and in­suf­fi­cient stormwa­ter man­age­ment.

• Berks Na­ture, $90,000, to in­stall agri­cul­tural best man­age­ment prac­tices on a steer and sheep farm in the Maiden Creek wa­ter­shed. The goal is to re­me­di­ate ex­ces­sive nu­tri­ent con­cerns and ad­dress lo­cal and re­gional drink­ing­wa­ter is­sues.

• Berks Na­ture, $50,000, to im­ple­ment agri­cul­tural best man­age­ment prac­tices on a farm in the Saucony Creek wa­ter­shed, in­clud­ing in­stal­la­tion of a ma­nure stor­age fa­cil­ity.

• Fair­mount Park Con­ser­vancy, $23,393, for en­hance­ments to Con­course Lake and sur­round­ing wet­lands, in­clud­ing im­prov­ing stormwa­ter runoff.

• Perkiomen Wa­ter­shed Con­ser­vancy, $98,000, to com­plete stream bank im­prove­ments along the west branch of the Skip­pack Creek in Lower Sal­ford Town­ship, Mont­gomery County.

• Schuylkill Head­wa­ters As­so­ci­a­tion, $59,325, for re­mov­ing coal refuse from a pre­vi­ous set­tling basin in West Brunswick Town­ship, Schuylkill County, and restor­ing the area to its nat­u­ral flood plain.

Ar­eas re­ceiv­ing grants for land con­ser­va­tion are:

• Berks Na­ture, $4,000, to pre­serve the 32-acre Meis­ter prop­erty in the Hay Creek Wa­ter­shed.

• Green Val­leys As­so­ci­a­tion, $4,000, to pre­serve the 22-acre Gra­ham prop­erty on the Welken­weir Pre­serve in Ch­ester County.

• Nat­u­ral Lands, $4,000, to pre­serve the more than 100-acre Terada prop­erty, which will be added to the Buck Hol­low Pre­serve.

This year, fund do­na­tions came from Ex­elon Gen­er­a­tion ($177,253), Philadel­phia Water De­part­ment ($100,000), Aqua PA ($64,000) and MOM’s Or­ganic Mar­ket ($2,867). All funds not dis­trib­uted this year will be rolled over into 2019. The Land Trans­ac­tion As­sis­tance Grants pro­gram pro­vides match­ing grants of up to $4,000 per project to pay for costs as­so­ci­ated with prop­erty pur­chases and con­ser­va­tion ease­ments on high pri­or­ity lands for water qual­ity and habi­tat pro­tec­tion.

Ex­elon has pro­vided over $2.6 mil­lion to the Schuylkill River Restora­tion Fund since it was founded in 2005; the Philadel­phia Water De­part­ment has con­trib­uted $900,000 over the past nine years. Aqua PA has do­nated over $100,000, and MOM’s Or­ganic Mar­ket has do­nated ap­prox­i­mately $6,000.

The Schuylkill Ac­tion Net­work and the Schuylkill River Green­ways con­tinue to seek ad­di­tional con­trib­u­tors in an ef­fort to fur­ther ex­pand the fund.

The fund was orig­i­nally cre­ated un­der a Delaware River Basin Com­mis­sion docket ap­proved in 2004 and Ex­elon Gen­er­a­tion’s de­sire to sup­port restora­tion ef­forts in the Schuylkill River and its trib­u­taries.

The Philadel­phia Water De­part­ment’s con­tri­bu­tion to the fund is lever­aged by other wa­ter­shed part­ners and is di­rected to­ward ad­dress­ing stormwa­ter man­age­ment and pol­lu­tion mit­i­ga­tion projects up­stream of the city’s two drink­ing water in­takes on the Schuylkill River.

The Schuylkill River Green­ways NHA is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion with the mis­sion of con­nect­ing res­i­dents, vis­i­tors and com­mu­ni­ties to the Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) by serv­ing as a cat­a­lyst for civic en­gage­ment and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF SCHUYLKILL RIVER GREEN­WAYS

Kent Himel­right, far left, of the Berks County Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict gives a tour of Sunny Acre Farm in Cen­tre Town­ship, Berks County, while dis­cussing the restora­tion de­vel­op­ments that have been made to the farm in the last year. The farm was a 2017 Schuylkill River Restora­tion Fund re­cip­i­ent.

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