Chesco water officials pledge improvement

Posted: January 16, 2002

WEST CHESTER — Caught on the defensive after the release of a federal report indicating poor water quality in some Chester County streams, county commissioners pledged yesterday to increase efforts to improve stream water.

At the weekly commissioners' meeting, county water authority officials gave a sobering overview of stream water health in a county known for its commitment to conservation.

In Chester County, 276 of 1,300 total miles - about 21 percent - of streams do not meet state water quality standards, officials said. Many of those streams, which are in southern Chester County, Honey Brook, and greater West Chester, are high in bacteria and pesticides from agriculture and housing construction, officials said.

In addition, water authority officials said, a recent Environmental Protection Agency analysis points to similar problems in the Brandywine Creek, Red Clay Creek, and White Clay Creek, all part of the Brandywine-Christina watershed, which serves parts of Chester County and Delaware. The most recent analysis, conducted in September 1999, said the watershed is among the most unhealthful in the United States.

Stream water is the basis of fishing, recreation and ecotourism. It also is treated and used for county drinking water.

The commissioners said the stream water quality in the Brandywine-Christina watershed is "generally good." They also said they had funded $8 million in stream-restoration and land-preservation grants since 1996.

Residents can help by monitoring where they put trash and by making appropriate use of lawn fertilizers, said Janet Bowers, executive director of the Chester County Water Resources Authority. More information is available by phone, 610-344-5400, or online, at http://www.chesco.org/water/.

Jonathan Gelb's e-mail address is jgelb@phillynews.com.

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