March 25, 2002 |
The sign: A tiny sow bug creeping along researcher Andy Duddleston's muddy fingertip. The meaning: Suburban sprawl and the runoff from fertilizers are affecting South Jersey's watersheds and water supply. Finding a sow bug in a Burlington County stream last week at Laurel Acres Park in Mount Laurel revealed that the water has a lot of room for improvement, Duddleston's colleague Chris Trainor said. With water levels dropping because of drought, many environmental groups are seizing the opportunity to inform residents about protecting what remains of the resource.
March 13, 2002
As plants awake from one of the driest winters on record, 2002 is unlikely to be known as the year of lush fairways or soft carpets of lawn. Pennsylvania and New Jersey have had to declare drought emergencies alarmingly early in the year. Precipitation in the last 180 days is about half of what it should be. Stream, reservoir and groundwater levels are abnormally low. Unless a monsoon is in the offing, the squeeze will continue through the summer. New Jersey would need two inches of rain a week for the next five weeks to return to comfortable levels, says Bradley M. Campbell, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
January 18, 2002
AS CITY BUDGET time approaches, the Fairmount Park system has one less thing to worry about. One of the looming crises detailed in "Acres of Neglect" our editorial series about city parks, was that five volunteer coordinators - who are essential to implementing a grant to restore the parks' five watersheds - had not been funded beyond April of this year. The failure to ensure funding was emblematic of the problems of planning and advocacy that we found in park management. Now the Natural Lands Restoration & Environmental Education Program has gotten word that the city will pick up funding the positions.
January 16, 2002 |
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.
January 6, 2002 |
Four of the Philadelphia region's 12 watersheds are among the most unhealthful in the country, according to a federal analysis of pollutants, wildlife and geology. The four are ranked six on a scale of one to six, with six being the worst - a dubious honor shared with just 28 other watersheds out of more than 2,200 in the United States. Don't rush to the store for bottled water just yet, however. The ratings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reflect the water in rivers, lakes and streams, not the treated water coming out of the tap. Moreover, two of the region's biggest watersheds, those containing the Schuylkill and lower Delaware River, scored slightly better, with fours.
May 17, 2001
In the catacomb beneath the Fairmount Water Works along the Schuylkill, it's all loose dirt, rough concrete, and planking under foot these days. Jackhammers provide the soundtrack. But in less than a year, visitors will move through the cool subterranean space along suspended walkways. Insulated from the city's hubbub by thick masonry, they'll peer at waters eerily lit by fiber optics. This warren of high-ceilinged rooms once held the pumps, flumes and turbines of the nation's first municipal water system.
April 9, 2001 |
Those tranquil streams you can hop across on a walk in the woods actually make up close to three-quarters of a watershed system, environmental experts say. "All these little finger streams are really the ones that you need to take care of," said Julie Kollar, chairwoman of Horsham Township's Environmental Advisory Board. And because 800 properties in Horsham have them, the township will hold a workshop to teach residents how to make sure the streams stay healthy. The Backyard Buffer workshop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 18 in Hatboro-Horsham High School auditorium, 899 Horsham Rd. Maintaining a stream is easier than it sounds, said Nancy Minich, director of land planning and design for the Heritage Conservancy, which will present the program.
April 4, 2001 |
Peco Energy Co. was unaware that it was in an environmentally protected area when it plowed down trees and plants along its transmission line in the Valley Creek watershed, company officials said yesterday. The watershed area has been designated for years as being of exceptional value - the highest protection by the state Department of Environmental Protection, agency officials said. Peco officials say they didn't know. "We were not aware this area was designated as exceptional value," Michael Wood, a spokesman, said.
February 13, 2001 |
Sandy Run Creek flows through four Montgomery County towns, past towering trees and in recent years past the roads and quickly sprouting housing developments that some say have contributed to serious runoff and flooding problems. Available for public review until Feb. 23 is a draft of a conservation plan aimed at improving the impaired Sandy Run watershed. Local officials have been working on the plan since January 1999. Suggested improvements include hiring a watershed manager to oversee the creek, which runs through Abington, Springfield, Upper Dublin and Whitemarsh Townships, as well as preserving open space.
February 12, 2001 |
Protecting a natural resource such as the Wissahickon Creek does not come cheap, say members of the nonprofit group formed to preserve it. And with encroaching development endangering the waterway, the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association is seeking the public's help in raising $2.6 million to do the job. The money will go toward a capital endowment, the association's first since it was founded in 1957. The goal is to maintain and improve the 64-square-mile watershed, which includes 12 municipalities and extends from Philadelphia to Lansdale.