A new publication by the American Water Resources Association highlights the Rock Lititz Floodplain Restoration Project in Lancaster County that uses an innovative private-public partnership to reduce sediment and nutrient loads going to the Chesapeake Bay without taxpayer money.
Lead authors Mark Gutshall and Lindsey Freidly from LandStudies, Inc. describe how the world-famous entertainment technology company Clair Global planned its new 93.3 acre Rock Lititz campus in Warwick Township, Lancaster County to house 13 companies supporting live entertainment production.
Over 3,100 feet of Santo Domingo Creek runs through the site and offered an opportunity to maximize land area for development, reduce long-term site costs and employ best management practices to permanently reduce flooding and water pollution coming from the site.
LandStudies, Inc. identified floodplain restoration as an effective strategy to meet the principles of Economic Ecology to weigh, combine, and maximize economic and environmental gains on the site.
Floodplain restoration involved removing the sediment that was built up along either side of Santo Domingo Creek creating the dirt-bank channels frequently seen in Southcentral Pennsylvania. These “legacy sediments” filled in behind old mill dams that use to dot the landscape by the hundreds.
Removing the sediment, creating a 16-acre system of low-profile riparian vegetation areas on the site and restoring the stream to its original floodplain eliminated streambank erosion that carried tons of sediment and nutrients from the segment of the Creek on the site.
It also reduced stormwater peak flows along the stream, allowed for groundwater recharge, provided wildlife habitat areas and more usable commercial space on the site versus using traditional methods.
And, the project was completed without public money.
Rock Lititz committed an estimated $755,000 for the floodplain restoration initiative because they recognized the environmental, community and economic benefits of using the floodplain restoration technique.
To make the project successful, key stakeholders and several agencies recognized the multiple benefits of floodplain restoration and it all worked, with Rock Lititz as the economic driver, to achieve a positive result.
Warwick Township Manager Daniel Zimmerman called the project, “...an opportunity for us to deal with aquifer recharge, flood control, sediment load reduction, [and] improve water quality. It’s a very targeted, regional approach based on good data. Efforts that we’ve launched like this are improving our watershed. As we continue gathering data on the status of the stream, all indications show we are moving toward meeting our TMDLs [total maximum daily load reduction load requirements].”
The project case study is included in the most recent AWRA Flood and Drought Management-Volume II Report (page 31).
LandStudies, Inc. is a Lititz-based firm and recognized leader in environmental restoration and sustainable design and a pioneer in Economic Ecology, an innovative approach that engages communities to work together to solve water issues and maximize both economic and environmental returns on investment.
Many of LandStudies’ award-winning projects incorporate cost-effective environmental solutions to meet water resource goals and regulations, while improving biodiversity and landscape solutions.
[Editor’s Note: If more private projects like this one incorporating cutting-edge best management practices producing public benefits like reducing stormwater peak discharge, sediment and nutrient load reduction from existing sources are encouraged by communities and the Department of Environmental Protection, it would bring a whole new dimension to meeting TMDL load reduction requirements all across the state and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Several projects like this have already been approved. We have a template. Why not approve more? After all, it doesn’t cost taxpayers anything.]
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