Temple and Villanova Monitoring Programs Seek to Document Watershed Health Improvements

 

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Temple’s Emily Arnold sampling sediment in Tookany Creek.

Temple and Villanova Monitoring Programs Seek to Document Watershed Health Improvements

A key objective of the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) is to document improvements in watershed health resulting from conservation, stream restoration, and stormwater management projects. Temple and Villanova Universities support this effort in the DRWI Upstream Suburban Philadelphia Cluster through the deployment of a suite of monitoring and modeling initiatives.

Temple and Villanova Universities are developing and deploying rigorous stormwater monitoring programs in upstream suburban Philadelphia watersheds. Their overall goal is to measure the effectiveness of stormwater and stream restoration projects in reducing water pollution and restoring watershed health. The two Universities are also using monitoring data to support hydraulic and hydrological modeling that predicts the effects of stormwater projects and identifies the best sites for future projects.

Much of this effort is focused on prioritized headwaters and sub-basins where partners seek to install clusters of restoration projects. By concentrating restoration efforts, DWRI stakeholders look to detect reductions in runoff volumes and improvements in water quality at the project and sub-basin scale. The two Universities are teamed up to develop stormwater monitoring plans for up to 6 headwater project areas, enabling them to compare and contrast different stream reaches that have various levels of project implementation. Before- and after-project samples are being paired upstream and downstream of project sites, to evaluate the success of projects and/or project clusters in “moving the needle” towards healthier watershed.

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Ultrasonic flow meter installed at Narberth measuring flow at headwaters of East Branch of the Indian Creek.

Temple and Villanova monitoring networks, including continuous data loggers, collect data such as temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. Nutrient monitoring has been conducted on a limited basis using a nitrate logger, and there are plans to add additional nutrient loggers. In addition to their own monitoring, the Universities coordinate with and support watershed groups with water quality sampling and citizen “StreamKeepers” with visual stream assessments. This includes developing a crowd sourcing smart phone app (currently being beta tested) that when launched will enable Streamkeepers to document their observations creek side.

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Villanova’s Sarah Rife standing next to flow meter communication box at Abington Friends School

Examples of project monitoring include Villanova University’s design, in conjunction with the project consultants, of instrumentation to monitor inflows, outflows, infiltration, and water quality changes at stormwater projects being installed at Abington Friends School (on Jenkintown Creek headwater to Tookany Creek) and College Settlement (on headwater to Pennypack Creek). This instrumentation is in the process of being installed with careful coordination with the project designers and contractors.

Pre-construction monitoring at an additional project site in Narberth Park has also been on-going for nearly a year. Villanova is working with the designers to ensure that the monitoring instrumentation is compatible with the rain garden and bioswales slated for design and construction at the Narberth Library and adjacent Windsor Avenue Green Street.

Villanova’s effort includes the installation of weather stations at project sites to collect rain fall and other meteorological data that supports their monitoring and modeling efforts. See the below Villanova University link for information on DRWI and other stormwater control measure research. http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/engineering/research/centers/vcase/vusp1/research/DRWI.html

The high quality “Tier 1” data sets collected by the Universities are being supplemented with the complimentary watershed organization and StreamKeeper data. The Academy of Natural Sciences and Stroud Water Research Center are also collecting baseline data including water quality, habitat assessment, and flora and fauna such as macroinvertebrates, algae, and fish. Collectively these monitoring data are being used for assessment, outreach and project implementation efforts that contribute to clean water, restored fish and wildlife habitat, and overall healthier watersheds.

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Weather station on the roof of Abington Friends School

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