Everyone lives in a watershed; therefore, everyone directly benefits from the services that watersheds provide including basic needs such as air, water, and food, as well as recreational opportunities, economic considerations, and biological functions/values. Therefore, if a watershed’s health is compromised, these important functions and values may be lost. For example, watershed health can affect the availability of water via infiltration of water through the soil, into the ground water aquifer, and ultimately into your drinking water well. If the watershed has large amounts of impervious surface, less water will be infiltrated into the soil, which can reduce the availability of drinking water.
On behalf of Solebury Township, Dr. Peter Brussock and his team from Environmental Planning Consultants (EPC) are conducting a multi-year study. EPC is studying the many factors that influence drinking water quality and supply, run-off and flooding, and recommending steps can be taken to manage a holistic and sustainable water budget for the future.
The key issues within the Aquetong watershed include:
- Overall, the water quality within the area is good, and the township and borough are meeting state water quality requirements.
- Area residents are dependent upon ground water, but many parts of the area have low recharge capacity. Reducing the pressure on ground water resources is a primary ongoing goal for local governments. Our region needs continue to reduce the pressure on ground water resources. This will need to ensure that there is realistic planning that reduces ground water withdrawals and/or increases ground water recharge, so that there is an overall increase in the available water to allow for a sustainable community and preservation of the area’s natural resources.
- Erosion of stream banks is an important concern caused by disturbance of riparian corridor vegetation by cutting and mowing, undersized stream crossings, invasive plants and excessive deer browsing. Also, changing weather patterns have led to an increased incidence and magnitude of flooding incidents.
- Some localized areas have the potential for groundwater contamination from failing or poorly maintained septic systems or other environmental hazards.
- Solebury Township has purchased Ingham Lake and the surrounding land for the purpose of building a new park and educational facility. Currently, Ingham Lake tends to heat the water from Ingham Spring, degrading the fish habitat below the dam. In reconstructing the dam, it is important that measures be taken to construct a coldwater bypass so that fish habitat below the dam is protected and enhanced. In addition, Ingham Spring’s ground water contribution area extends far beyond the boundaries of the Aquetong watershed and may require additional protection measures. Solebury Township has authorized a study of the groundwater contribution to Ingham Spring to more fully understand the sources and scope of the watershed area.
- Commercial development is continuing in the Aquetong watershed, particularly along the Route 202 corridor. This corridor is zoned residential and commercial and is serviced by several water supply systems (which have ground water as a source) and public sewer. The ground water withdrawn by Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority as well as residences and businesses located along Route 202 is sent to the Lambertville waste water treatment plant in New Jersey and is discharged to the Delaware River. Because the water is not locally recharged, this results in a net loss of water in the Aquetong watershed. This imbalance has the potential to alter ground water elevations (quantity) in the watershed, particularly in the Route 202 quarter where water withdrawal and use is most intensive.
- Mining activities in the Primrose Creek watershed (to the north of the Aquetong watershed) appear to have severely impacted groundwater levels. Due to the depth of the quarry pits (i.e., below the ground water elevation/table), they fill with ground water, which is pumped out and discharged into Primrose Creek downstream of the mining activity. This has resulted in reduced ground water availability for some drinking water wells in the Primrose watershed, and a reduced baseflow in Primrose Creek. Some geology reports suggest the possibility that water from the Aquetong watershed may be affected by some of these dynamics.
The consultants proposed an action plan for local watersheds. The action steps that may involve the Aquetong Watershed Association include:
- Continuing to gather baseline data
- Increasing watershed association and volunteer involvement
- Establishing critical water planning areas
- Applying for grants and other funding opportunities
- Implementing stream restoration projects
- Informing residents of best practices to improve storm water management
- Identifying failing bridges, culverts and swales
- Evaluating results and providing community feedback.
These reports are available on the Solebury township website under ‘water resources’.