Assessment 2011

Action Agenda | Assessment Report

AWA Releases Aquetong Watershed Assessment

Our watershed is in good condition but under stress and at risk — Action is needed to protect quality and supplies for future

If you and your family live within the Aquetong watershed in Solebury Township or New Hope Borough, you are directly affected by the health of the watershed. A new study shows that while the watershed is in good condition, it is under stress and action is needed to protect water quality and supplies for the future.

The Aquetong Watershed Association (AWA) recently completed a two-year comprehensive assessment of the Aquetong Creek watershed funded by a Growing Greener grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

More than 50 volunteers worked with outside consultants to sample the watershed’s 23 stream miles, compiling all new data together with existing studies from DEP and local governments to create a comprehensive assessment. “We studied the creek at a very granular level, sampling the marine life, riparian buffers and stream conditions,” says board president Brian Keyes, one of the AWA’s founding directors. “The study will help us set priorities for restoration and protection.”

“The good news is that the watershed is in relatively good shape,” says Keyes. “The challenge to us and future generations is to keep it clean, cold and clear. We need to restore ecologically damaged segments to preserve both the habitat and our ability to draw high-quality groundwater in a wise manner.”

Founded in 2007, the AWA’s mission is to conserve, preserve and restore the natural resources of the Aquetong Watershed, which covers eight square miles from New Hope to Lahaska and north to Honey Hollow and south to Solebury Mountain. Year round, the AWA leads and supports demonstration projects, engages in public outreach, and advocates for wise planning and the environmentally sensible use of water and land. The comprehensive watershed assessment enables the AWA to provide clear environmental leadership at this critical time.

“Findings are indicating that there is stress on the area’s water quality and supply that requires citizen action, education and wise policies to protect water resources,” says Keyes. Specifically, the AWA will inform its membership and the community of the need to address:

The need for homeowners to have their well water tested at least annually to ensure its quality and safety
Elevated stream temperature during hot summer days caused by Aquetong Lake, man-made ponds and insufficient shade tree canopy along the streams;
An absence of diverse aquatic life in many locations, indicating that some streams are impaired;
Indicators that farming and residential uses of fertilizers, herbicides and other chemicals may be elevating nitrate levels;
Continued development and the prevalence of impervious surfaces in the Route 202 corridor;
Problems arising from invasive plants, deer overpopulation, road salt pollution and erosion during major storms;
The potential for depletion of the water supply in the Aquetong watershed by as many as 500,000 gallons per day in normal rainfall years, and by 750,000 gallons per day during drought periods.
Ordinance improvements to improve stormwater management, reduce pollution from onlot septic systems, and protect the area’s natural resources.

AWA members and the community have a special reason to look forward to the organization’s annual membership meeting, when board members will introduce and discuss the results of the comprehensive assessment at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 20 at the Bucks County Audubon Society’s visitor center barn at Honey Hollow, located at 2877 Creamery Road in Solebury.

“We will be meeting with our members, local government officials and holding community briefings to help everyone understand what needs to be done to protect local water resources. We want people to know that each family, business and organization can make a huge difference to take actions that will ensure safe water quality and sufficient supplies to sustain the community,” says Keyes.

To learn more about the AWA, send an email to info@aquetongwatershed.org.