This report appeared in the Daily Local News, 11/22/22:
Panel discusses Chester County water quality
WEST CHESTER—How is stream quality in Chester County?
That is what the West Chester Green Team and West Chester University’s Office of Sustainability held a panel discussion on Nov.15 to find the answer.
WCU Professor Joan Welch welcomed about 50 attendees and told the group that the University’s water comes from the Brandywine Creek.
The program in the University’s new Sciences and Engineering Center started with the presentation of the First Annual Philip Jamison Art and Nature Award, recognizing a local artist for portraying the natural beauty of Chester County, by Philip Jamison, Jr., to Beth Clark, some of whose landscape scenes were on view.
Moderator George Seeds, Master Watershed Steward and community science volunteer, first turned the mic over to Dr. John Jackson of the Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale. Dr. Jackson pointed out that 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, preceded by Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law of 1937. Those laws have improved stream quality, he showed, but 20SUBMITTED PHOTO of the state’s streams remain impaired and the Delaware Basin has lost about half of its sensitive aquatic species.
Professor Megan Fork and student researchers Miranda Davies and Danielle Scudero then described Goose Creek and West Chester’s other streams as showing typical “urban stream syndrome,” with too much impervious surface, fast rising water, flooding, pollution, and decreased biodiversity. Thus, the less chemical-tolerant larvae and other small organisms perish, and the food chain suffers. How to solve it? Improve green infrastructure such as rain barrels and rain gardens, restore flood plains, cut down on fertilizer, road salt, trash, and other contaminants. and support organizations fighting to support our watersheds.
Byron Riggins of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network spoke about the importance of community watershed advocacy. The northeastern US will be getting more rain, he said; and where will all that water go? Better into roots and the ground than into the streams; and a particular hazard is combined systems in many cities where sewage and stormwater flow off together in high water. He gave Goose Creek as an example of activism, where community, experts, and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network have secured real improvement over the years.
Audience questions elicited further information: the WCU quad is underlain by retention basins; the Sykes Union parking lot captures runoff which is released rather than infiltrating; microplastics are found everywhere, from Antarctica to Pennsylvania’s highest value streams.
Why should we care about biodiversity? Because, Jackson concluded, invertebrates and birds, among others, are surrogates for ourselves. They sample air and water constantly, and if they are being poisoned, so are we.
This was the third event in the fall 2022 environmental forum series; the last, on December 13, “Tips for a Green Holiday,” will include hands-on advice on making and receiving gifts sustainably, open to all in Sykes Union, 110 West Rosedale Ave., West Chester.