Stormwater is the bane of Paxton Creek watershed. Excess storm runoff leads to a plethora of miseries: dried up wells due to poorly recharged aquifers; worsened flooding downstream; pollutants washed off the landscape to degrade water quality and diminish its uses; eroded lands that create gobs of sediment to clog drains, contribute to unstable waterway dams, and settle out into waters --diminishing water depths, smothering aquatic life, and causing other problems. All of this can be legal!
Runoff occurs where water precipitation (rain, snow/hail melt) fail to infiltrate into the ground, and surface waters flow to lower elevations. Impervious surfaces (concrete, asphalt, rubber, metals, stone, even packed dirt) can result in maximum runoff. Urban and suburban areas have large amounts of impervious surfaces (IS). In 2005 Paxton Creek watershed had an average 30% IS; the Harrisburg and Penbrook subwatersheds (2 of 11) had 59% IS; Lucknow subwatershed (mostly undeveloped mountain land) had 9% IS. It took 3 major transformations of watershed development (forest, to farms, to urban and suburban land uses) to create the large amounts of IS that greatly exacerbate the problems described above, and, this pattern is repeated in thousands of communities across the nation. This is a major factor in the demise of the Chesapeake Bay, and most watersheds . . . and most of it is greatly preventable.
Fixing Paxton Creek’s main stormwater problems (runoff volumes/flow rates; pollution; insufficient infiltration) will require 5 principal action strategies: 1) embracement of a shared image of an improved watershed wanted by people --its promise, protection, and ways to go about the improvements; 2) reduction of existing IS (decreased quantity, & making more porous), and retrofit of existing stormwater management facilities so as to enhance their performance; 3) development of new lands, and infill on existing developed lands with different approaches that create much less IS (as Low Impact Development techniques which incorporate many types of Stormwater Best Management Practices --BMPs); 4) greatly increased local landscape infiltration, so as to decrease runoff; 5) changed practices and habits of watershed stakeholders so as to generate decreased pollution.
To help implement the watershed improvement strategies, PCWEA has developed two BMP tours in the watershed. Projects in these tours were funded by a Chesapeake Bay Targeted Watershed Grant:
- Tour 1 is in Harrisburg and Susquehanna Township. It focuses on more educational considerations and includes a Brownfield site.
- Tour 2 is in Lower Paxton Township. It has some unique aspects such as a rehabilitated rain garden, retrofitted detention basins, and a site with salinized soils.
Take the BMP Tours (You will be forwarded to the SRBC Website)
Unfortunately, some areas need our attention. Take the Hot Sports Tour.