Case Study:

Project Headwaters: A Watershed Approach

The Pennypack Creek Watershed covers 56 square miles in twelve municipalities and includes a population of over 300,000 people. Over the past 30 years, the watershed has undergone a considerable amount of development and suburbanization. Changes to the landscape have led to a number of problems, including ecological degradation and an increased incidence of flooding. No coordinated stormwater management program exists.

 What started as an epiphany to Trout Unlimited’s Mike Wilson, however, has evolved into a model approach to stormwater management involving a broad base of stakeholders and focusing on action rather than words. While working on a streambank restoration project in the lower Pennypack Creek, Mike began thinking about the larger Pennypack watershed and realized that his efforts would probably have a greater impact if they were taking place further upstream. At the same time, Temple University’s Center for Sustainable Communities’ Pennypack Creek Watershed study was underway. Discussions between Wilson, the Temple team, Philadelphia Water Department, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, local municipalities, and others led to a partnership intent on getting things done.

 The group’s name embodies its core philosophy: Project Headwaters believes that upstream preservation and restoration efforts can have the greatest trickle down effect. The team established a series of principles to maximize the water quality benefits of their work:

  •     Implement coordinated projects in close proximity to one another
  •     Target implementation in headwater areas
  •     Focus projects on public and institutional lands
  •     Retrofit stormwater systems before restoring stream channels

“At the headwaters, streams are very small,” says Shandor Szalay, AKRF Inc. Project Manager and Project Headwaters participant, “and they are not always recognized as resources. Yet it is here in the headwaters that waterways have the most intimate connection with the landscape, making them most sensitive to disturbance and pollution. Up in the headwaters is where the battle for water quality and healthy streams is won or lost. By engaging the people in these areas, we have a really good shot of making a difference downstream.”

 Project Headwaters has identified between 20 and 30 priority projects for implementation over the next five years, the first of which was a riparian buffer restoration and reforestation effort in Horsham Township. Initial plantings took place in Fall 2007.

Find more info about Project Headwaters via the Temple-Villanova Sustainable Stormwater Initiative.

Like What you See? Want to spread these ideas? Share a Mobile-Friendly Snippet!

Check out these mobile-ready shorts from the case study. Share them directly via newsletters and social media by embedding the Vimeo codes.

Use the QR Code images on signs, postcards, posters and other cool stuff. (You can learn more about how you can use QR Codes in our QR Code Guide)

Whatever you do, please let us know what technique you use, and send us your own great ideas for getting these videos out!

This excerpt talks about the critical role Headwaters play in the battle for water quality and the importance of protecting these under appreciated upstream resources.

Share the Link to the Snippet:

Share the QR Code:

(click for full-size image)
This short speaks from the heart: If you love the environment, find the part you most care about and get involved. You might be amazed at where you end up...

Share the Link to the Snippet:

Share the QR Code:

(click for full-size image)