Spring Cleaning the Wissahickon Creek

by 
Erin Mooney, for the Shuttle
FOW photo
Volunteers gather at the 2016 spring creek cleanup.

The Wissahickon is a critical resource to the region. The creek contributes to the drinking water of 350,000 Philadelphians, which represents 10 percent of Philadelphia’s drinking water.

The Wissahickon flows through a highly developed area. From its source in a spring under a parking lot at the Montgomery Mall in Montgomeryville, it is channeled and fed by tributaries throughout its 64-square-mile watershed until it reaches the last seven miles of its length in Philadelphia. The Schuylkill is the end point for the Wissahickon’s 23-mile journey.

As the stream meanders through suburbs and city, it takes runoff from roofs, driveways, lawns and parking lots. It picks up contaminants like motor oil and grease from automobiles, lawn chemicals, weed killer, pet waste and other pollutants. As a result, the stream’s sediment and phosphorus pollution levels far exceed federal Clean Water Act standards.

Friends of the Wissahickon is working to do all it can to preserve the creek. We engage at the policy level to create and maintain protections for this important stream, and we’re also on the ground in the Wissahickon Valley Park, where we’re managing extensive erosion repairs.

Each spring, volunteers join us to help clean up where trash has collected in and along the creek over the winter months. You can help us with a little spring cleaning this month — we’re participating in a stream-wide cleanup with the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association on Saturday, April 29. Meet up at 9 a.m. at Historic RittenhouseTown. We will be cleaning the southern part of the stream near Lincoln Drive, down to Ridge Avenue, where the creek joins the Schuylkill. We’ll provide the supplies. Email volunteer coordinator Christina Anthony to register: anthony@fow.org.

And you can always support our work by giving to FOW at fow.org.

Happy spring!