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Protecting the Chesapeake in Chester County

How planting gardens and trees helps save the Bay.

April showers bring…more trouble than you may have realized when it comes to urban and suburban waterways. When stormwater flows off streets, building rooftops, and parking lots, it can carry all kinds of household and automotive chemicals; fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides; pet waste; and soil—all urban runoff pollutants that end up in streams and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. Working with us, Chester County municipalities are “Saving the Bay” one project at a time.

For example, Upper Oxford Township enlisted our help to incorporate water quality improvements into their new Township park design. We showed them that by strategically working with Mother Nature – that is, adding a rain garden and planting more trees in targeted areas —they could save money, beautify the park, and engage their community, all while reducing stormwater runoff.

The plan not only reduces pollutant runoff, it also eliminates the need for an expensive system of underground drainage piping.

Our senior planner for water resources met with Township supervisors, the park committee, and the Township engineer to finalize plans for a rain garden and wetland tree planting. The 1,500 square-foot rain garden will capture and filter water runoff from the surrounding paved parking lot and keep it from entering any waterways in the area. The plan not only reduces pollutant runoff, it also eliminates the need for an expensive system of underground drainage piping.

Upper Oxford Township Park Project Site—Erosion Evident
Upper Oxford Township Park Project Site—Erosion Evident
Upper Oxford Township Park Conceptual Design
Upper Oxford Township Park Conceptual Design

The second project includes the purchase and planting of several hundred native species trees around the park wetlands area to act as a stream bank (riparian) buffer, also reducing runoff. Upper Oxford Township is excited about both new projects and plans to engage the community in planting all of these trees. What a great way to get Township residents to feel a sense of ownership and pride in their new park. Thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Growing Greener and PECO Green Region funders for additional support for this project.

Education, Outreach, Planning

The Upper Oxford Township park design is part of our two-year initiative to improve water quality in the Chester County portion of the Chesapeake Bay, funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The goal: to provide education, outreach, and public and private planning to improve local water quality. These steps are necessary to bring municipalities in compliance with new federal and state requirements to reduce urban and agricultural pollutants that degrade the Chesapeake Bay. Our staff collaborated with municipal engineers of three pilot municipalities (East Nottingham, New London, and Upper Oxford townships) and developed innovative plans tailored to each location.