What do rain gardens and “Don’t Feed the Ducks” signs have to do with clean water? Plenty, says the Brodhead Watershed Association working in Monroe County.
For the past several years, BWA has tested water quality in the Brodhead, McMichael and Pocono creeks. The findings are clear: the streams where they flow through Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg are not safe for swimming and other water contact.
That finding led to a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation to look for sources of pollution and develop plans to clean up the streams.
It’s not unusual for streams to become polluted as they flow through “urban areas,” but the BWA and municipal partners – East Stroudsburg, Stroudsburg and Stroud Township - want to make sure the problems are fixed before they get worse.
When water tests showed that some of the problem was caused by large gatherings of ducks and geese (drawn by people feeding them), BWA designed and purchased "Don't Feed the Ducks" signs, and municipal partners installed them at popular duck-feeding spots.
Rain gardens capture runoff from parking lots, roofs and streets, so BWA and community partners have planted rain gardens at East Stroudsburg High School South, East Stroudsburg, and Sarah Street Grill, Stroudsburg, and plan more. These gardens capture polluted runoff before it can reach streams and allow it to infiltrated slowly through the soil.
Homeowners hold the real key to cleaning up polluted runoff. They can install rain barrels under their downspouts (as John Provoznik has done at his East Stroudsburg law office), build their own rain gardens and pick up after their pets. Take a plastic bag with you whenever you walk your dog.
The next step in the NFWF-funded project is to develop a plan for future projects. BWA has hired Hanover Engineering Associates for that task.
Hanover will “provide municipalities, residents, and businesses a model plan to follow for protection and restoration of the Lower Brodhead Watershed,” the Bartonsville consultants said.
The plan will identify areas for green practices, such as: Green roofs; Constructed wetlands; Pervious pavement; Rain gardens; Rain barrels; Planter boxes; Vegetated swales; Buffer restoration; and Lawn conversions (to native species, unmowed as natural area).
Where municipalities own land such as sidewalks, streets and parking lots, green practices can be installed by the municipality. However, most land is privately owned, so private landowners will be encouraged to install green projects on their properties.
A search for funding to help landowners and municipalities “go green” will follow the plan.
Over the summer, public meetings will be held to discuss possible projects to include in the plan; please attend and offer your ideas.
To receive regular updates on the project, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line “green infrastructure”) or call 570-839-1120.For information, visit the Brodhead Creek Watershed Association’s Green Infrastructure Project webpage.