PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Philadelphia Water Department to host a stream restoration workshop July 22-24.
The multi-agency and disciplinary group included staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Water Supply Authority, the Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and The Nature Conservancy.
“Our philosophy is that no one person has all of the knowledge and experience to solve the problems we encounter with rivers, creeks and streams,” said Erik Haniman, manager of the Ecological Restoration Group for the Philadelphia Water Department. “When we come together for these types of events, there’s a valuable exchange of ideas.”
The workshop was taught by Dave Derrick, Research Hydraulic Engineer and Dr. Rich Fischer, Research Wildlife Biologist, both of USACE’s Engineer Research and Development Center.
Participants learned about the many different aspects of restoring a stream, including stream bank stabilization techniques and working with riparian ecosystems and vegetation.
The workshop included site visits to two projects built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District and the Philadelphia Water Department: the Tacony Creek Ecological Improvement Project and the Cobbs Creek (Indian Creek) Habitat Restoration.
USACE and PWD restored Tacony Creek in 2010. The project included constructing several bendway weirs and planting more than 10,000 native plant species along the banks of the creek. The bendway weirs are rock structures that redirect stream flow away from banks and into the middle of the channel. This helps prevent erosion and can also create pools of water where aquatic life can thrive.
The Indian Creek project involved removing approximately 700 feet of the stream from a culvert, a practice known as daylighting. Contractors excavated a new channel, planted vegetation and converted the existing culvert into storage for combined sewage overflow. These measures serve to improve the habitat and reduce the amount of sewage overflow that may enter the creek during heavy rain events.
Dave Derrick, one of the course instructors, travels the country serving as a USACE expert on navigation, dam removal, dam decommissioning, aquatic and riparian corridors, and stream restoration. He worked on the design for the Tacony Creek and Indian Creek projects.
“One of the best aspects of the training is having participants walk through the project sites with the designers so they can appreciate what construction was like and observe the functionality we brought back to these streams and the ecosystems,” said Derrick.
Derrick’s experience and enthusiasm for all things water was one of the best aspects of the training according to participants.
“Dave Derrick lives and breathes rivers and streams,” said Adrian Leary, a biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District. “Having the opportunity to learn from someone so immersed in this type of work is motivating and it’s effective.”
Leary added one of the other benefits of the workshop was meeting counterparts from partner agencies at the federal, state and local level.
For more information on the Philadelphia Water Department’s ecological restoration work, visit http://phillywatersheds.org/