Friday, April 8, 2011

Rain Gardens, Stormwater and the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy Post '11.0

Greetings and welcome to a new blog
by the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy.

The Conservancy is a private non-profit established to conserve and protect the land & water resources of the Perkiomen Creek watershed. We are located in Schwenksville, PA but work throughout the Perkiomen Creek's 362 square mile watershed. We are committed to excellent environmental education and practical, effective, hands-on conservation and stewardship efforts aimed at improving water quality and aquatic habitats.

The Conservancy is also a founding member of the Perkiomen MS4 Partnership whose goal is to help member municipalities address the public awareness and participation requirements of the PaDEP and US EPA's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) programs. The overall goal of this blog will be to provide general information about stormwater issues and specific information about raingardens. We hope you will join us as we explore these interesting and important topics with our communities.

First a few words about stormwater and why we care so much about all that water falling from the sky!

Stormwater refers to rain, whether it drizzles less than an inch throughout the day or comes as a downpour dropping an inch or more an hour, as well as water from melting snow. All of our precipitation is critical to keeping local water supplies clean & fresh as well as available to the many communities, businesses and homes that rely on the Perky and its associated groundwater resources for day-to-day water supplies. Over the many years that communities and state agencies have been trying to manage stormwater damage, we have learned a great deal about what is effective stormwater control and what has just not worked.

One of the most important findings is this: as we have collected and flushed stormwater through pipes and basins, we have seriously short-changed our local water supplies and are actually increasing the stormwater impacts to our creeks, streams and rivers. The principal problem with past designs has been the speed with which we try to remove rainwater from our communities.

By collecting stormwater in detention basins - those large bombcrater looking depressions - we increase the volume of stormwater being discharged to creeks and we increase the velocity and power of those discharges. More water moving at greater speeds has more power to erode stream banks, carry more pollution into even very small creeks, and obliterate aquatic habitats with sediments. Under more natural conditions, much of the 43 or so inches of precipitation we receive locally each year, would infiltrate into the ground, becoming part of the local ground water supply. Twenty years or more of diverting that rainfall directly to local creeks has led to receding ground water levels and hundreds of emergency well drilling permits for wells that mysteriously go dry.

So regulations have been changed to help communities get more of their precious stormwater into the ground rather than directly into local creeks. By infiltrating more stormwater, we can recharge our groundwater supplies, reduce overall pollution and erosion within our beautiful creeks and help ensure that groundwater supplies will be sufficient to outlast periodic droughts. 

As we move forward with this blog, we will expand on stormwater concerns, provide some great options that even small property owners can implement and help all of our Perkiomen communities improve and protect our local water resources. One of our goals is to help propoerty owners implement hundreds of small rain gardens throughout the watershed. We hope you will check in with us often and share this site with other concerned commuity members.

You can send comments or questions to  Please note"Stormwater" in the subject line. We will do our best to answer your stormwater questions and provide practical options for addressing stormwater concerns.

To learn more about the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy, join us on Facebook or visit

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