Watersheds in Montgomery County


Rydal and Meadowbrook are part of the Pennypack Watershed

The Pennypack was first surveyed by Thomas Holme in 1687. The creek begins in two branches, one in Horsham, the other in Warminster, joining in Bryn Athyn. The creek then flows through Lower Moreland, Abington and Northeast Philadelphia. It flows into the great Delaware River.

Until a great flood that swept through Abington and caused the death of an elderly couple in 1996, not much notice was paid to watersheds of the Township. In the aftermath, Abington's unique location on the continental shelf and rapid development after World War II came into greater focus.

mapTemple University's Center for Sustainable Communities (CSC) has studied a number of watersheds in the region, including the Pennypack and Sandy Run (part of the Wissahickon Creek watershed). It compared existing estimated floodplain boundaries to new data. This revealed much greater potential damage. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) estimated that within Abington Township there are approximately 250 homes at risk from flooding. For Montgomery County as a whole, the estimate was 1,450 homes.

The Township realized that the infrastructure was not sufficient to drain large volumes of water and have subsequently raised capital through bonds and invested in storm water management. Thirteen homes along the Sandy Run (to the west of Edge Hill) were purchased and torn down under federal disaster and flood relief assistance programs that target homes built on floodplains.

A number of other targeted projects have been engineered by Abington to address vulnerable infrastructure, while Pennsylvania coninues to introduce new regulations and mandates to abate potential weaknesses.

Sources and Links:
USGS National Atlas

Temple CSC Pennypack Watershed Study
Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust

Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Professionals

Ellen Bard on the 1996 Flood

Abington Township Stormwater Management

Roslyn Park Sandy Run Stream Bank Restoration

Adam Levine's History of Philadelphia's Watersheds & Sewers
Inquirer Article on the Pennypack Floodplain

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