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Aquetong – A Legendary Spring
Through the land grants of William Penn in 1702, the beautiful domain called the Great Spring Tract was taken from the Lenape ancestors who had called the spring Achewtong.
“Achewe” likely translates from Lenape as “the great spring among the bushy (pine) tree.” The Europeans corrupted the Native American word into Aquetong. The land of the Great Spring stayed in the family of the original settlers, the Inghams, for more than 100 years. Today known as Aquetong Spring, it also carries the local name of Ingham Spring.
At the stunning rate of three million gallons per day, water from Aquetong Spring gushes over the spillway, cascading into a clear pool with a beautiful bluish color along the bottom.
The spring formed at the contact of a geologic fault. As limestone waters freely flowing through cavernous underground voids suddenly encounter red shale, they bubble up to form the spring. Illustrating the geologic fault, ledges of stone on the northwest side of the spring are a gray porous limestone, while stones on the southeast side are of solid red shale.
The water travels down the man-made spillway into a sparkling stream which empties into Aquetong Lake, created by a dam in the 19th century to power mills. Waters from the lake flow into Aquetong Creek, which then flows through New Hope into the Delaware River.
In 2009, Solebury Township acquired the land surrounding Aquetong Lake from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) for purposes of preserving the land and creating a park and environmental educational facility. PFBC retained ownership of Aquetong Spring. The AWA, along with many other civic and environmentally-oriented organizations, will be providing insights and public comments as Solebury Township more fully develops a master plan for this important historic and environmentally sensitive site.
Notes From the President
“For many of us, water simply flows from a faucet, and we think little about it beyond this point of contact. We have lost a sense of respect for the wild river, for the complex workings of a wetland, for the intricate web of life that water supports.”
— Sandra Postel, Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, 2003.
Water is essential to all of us and in the lives of all flora and fauna on earth. Water is the universal solvent, affected by all that it comes in contact with: the land it traverses, and the soils through which it travels.
A watershed is a basin-like landform, defined by the surrounding topography, dividing areas that are drained by a network of rivers, streams and tributaries into a particular body of water. The water that falls in the form of precipitation travels through the soil to groundwater and streams, creating a combined water system.
The important thing about watersheds is: what we do on the land affects water quality of the groundwater and impacts all communities living downstream. The Aquetong watershed, in which we live, covers a landform of over eight square miles and contains 23 miles of streams that eventually drain into the Delaware River. Two major creeks, Aquetong and Honey Hollow, are located within its land area, as well as Aquetong Lake and Aquetong Spring. There are about 3,000 residences and businesses in the watershed covering a major portion of Solebury Township and all of New Hope Borough. The entire population of the watershed depends upon groundwater wells as its source for drinking water and daily use. So, all of us, residents and businesses alike, living in the watershed have a vested interest in protecting our most valuable resource.
In 2008, the AWA submitted a Growing Greener grant application to the PA Department of Environmental Protection requesting funds to conduct a comprehensive assessment study of the watershed. The grant also requested funds to train volunteers to help in the data collection and monitoring phase of the project. Last year, we were overwhelmed when Governor Rendell announced that the AWA was awarded a $47,000 Growing Greener grant to execute the assessment and monitoring project.
We are doing this study to learn more about the environmental condition of the Aquetong watershed, including water quality and biological indicators leading to a determination of the current “state of the watershed.” We are hoping our study will augment the previous work done by Solebury Township and reported in other independent studies.
Our study has many objectives, namely: to identify areas within the Aquetong watershed to protect and preserve; to recommend potential areas for restoration; and to work with the municipalities and community in developing a plan for the preservation of this great resource. If you are interested in volunteering to help in the data collection, in becoming an AWA member, or just learning more about what you can do to help improve the watershed, please contact us.
— Les Isbrandt
Aquetong’s Fish Species
Aquetong Creek supports native brown trout and Aquetong Spring was used as a trout hatchery in the past. It is probable that trout reproduction occurs within Aquetong Creek because small/young trout have been observed in the creek, and the dam at the Bucks County Playhouse prohibits trout from swimming upstream from the Delaware River. Other species that occur in the creek include American eel, white suckers and bass as well as northern two-lined salamanders and green frogs. A variety of turtles, including snapping and painted turtles, occur in the watershed. Eastern spiny softshell turtles are native to western Pennsylvania, but have been introduced into eastern Pennsylvania, and may occur in Aquetong Lake. Macroinvertebrates include a variety of mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, as well as other genera.
We live in a beautiful part of the world and are fortunate to have many people who care about and want to preserve the natural beauty of the area. The AWA gives you the opportunity to volunteer in many ways. If you are interested in volunteering in any way, be sure to visit our website to sign up for are mailing list. We’ll mail you about upcoming events and projects.
Our tree-plantings are fun events and require just a couple of hours on a Saturday morning. Put on boots and gloves, plant trees, learn about restoring riparian buffers and meet lots of interesting people while experiencing our beautiful countryside. We have planted almost 1,000 trees in the last 18 months. The trees are small, so anyone can participate. We have had participants aged 3 years old, as well as those that have passed their 8th decade! We are planning two tree planting events this year, as well as invasive species removal projects.
We are now forming teams to work on our Assessment Project. There will be five teams, each team assigned to a different segment of Aquetong Creek. Participants will get training in the technologies and procedures of stream assessment, from taking water samples and temperatures to visual assessment of stream banks and local vegetation. Volunteers should be prepared to make a commitment of several hours per month for the next 18 months. This commitment will be rewarded by being part of an important study and by becoming knowledgeable in stream ecology. The results of the study will allow us to plan restoration projects where they are most needed.
Volunteers are also needed to help out in many ways, let us know if you are interested!