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Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties, PA

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APPROPRIATION / PHASE: General Investigations / Feasibility

BUSINESS PROGRAM: Ecosystem Restoration

AUTHORITY The Authority for this study is House Committee on Public Works and Transportation Resolution dated March 15, 1988.

LOCATION: Wissahickon Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River, is located in southeastern Pennsylvania approximately 13 miles upstream of the Schuylkill’s confluence with the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

DESCRIPTION: A Reconnaissance Report identified impaired areas of the watershed and potential solutions for each, including but not limited to, ecosystem restoration, fish and wildlife habitat restoration, flood damage reduction, and allied purposes. Based on this study, it was determined that the primary problems within the Wissahickon watershed include stream flow variability, poor quality aquatic habitat, aquatic habitat degradation, flooding, and overall ecosystem imbalances. Various solutions to address these problems exist, and are being considered in depth during feasibility investigations. For example, riparian buffer enhancement, stream bank stabilization, natural stream channel restoration, construction of fish passages, dam removal, wetland creation and restoration, and structural flood damage reduction measures are being considered for specific locations within the watershed. A Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement was signed with the City of Philadelphia Water Department in April 2004. The investigation focuses primarily on the Philadelphia County portion of the Wissahickon Creek watershed.

STATUS: The project team has narrowed its focus on the removal of Cresheim Dam.  The Cresheim Creek project site extends from several hundred feet upstream of Cresheim Dam downstream to the north side of McCallum Street for an approximate distance of 3,400 feet. Cresheim Dam is a rock structure approximately 12 feet high with a culvert that allows stream flow to pass through the middle of the dam. It is an obstruction to fish passage and has led to extensive sedimentation upstream. 

The restoration goals for this project are to provide fish passage over the dam; reduce sediment inputs to the creek; increase filtration of water containing excess nutrients, chemicals, and/or sediment; improve aquatic habitat; and restore a more naturally functioning stream system. These goals would be realized by removing the dam structure and/or modifying the channel downstream of the dam. 

Additional opportunities exist in Montgomery County; however, the Army Corps has not identified a cost share partner to proceed with additional studies.  If a sponsor is identified, the Corps will need to seek approval for a new start under the SMART Planning principles. 

Following completion of the Feasibility Phase, the study will be converted to the Continuing Authorities Program for implementation of Cresheim Creek Dam Removal Project.

PROJECT GOALS: The purpose of this project is to investigate the best solution for ecosystem restoration, fish and wildlife habitat restoration, flood damage reduction, and allied purposes

SPONSOR: The City of Philadelphia, Water Department