Watershed Projects

ACCD initiates and partners on projects to improve water quality.  

These projects restore watershed health, reduce flooding and improve the overall ecosystem. Many of these projects originate from watershed plans, a strategic approach to watershed wide improvements.   



Project Types

Riparian buffers are important for watershed health. They filter pollutants, hold soil intact and provide food shelter for wildlife. A riparian buffer is the area of land next to water that protects or “buffers” a river or stream with plants, like trees, shrubs, native grasses and perennials. Working cooperatively with state and local governments, nonprofits and private citizens, ACCD has planted thousands of native trees and shrubs to establish acres of new riparian buffers.

Sediment is the number one stream pollutant by volume. While erosion is a natural process, excess erosion can collapse streambanks and clog stream channels with sediment. Increased erosion can result in flooding, degraded habitat and impaired water quality. Human activities such as the clearing of natural vegetation by landowners, urbanization or development, the construction of impervious surfaces (roads, buildings, drainage ditches, etc.), and agricultural practices (grazing, plowing) can worsen and speed up erosion problems within a watershed. ACCD has worked on several stream restoration projects to re-establish natural flows, stabilize streambanks and provide habitat for fish and macroinvertebrates.

Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) is water that is contaminated as a result of historic coal mining.  

Common problems caused by AMD can include low pH (high acidity) and high metal concentrations, such as iron, aluminum and manganese. Metals in water can smother fish and macroinvertebrate eggs, coat stream bottoms and clog gills. AMD also causes economic damage through losses to property values, recreation, treatment costs and contaminated drinking water. 

In Pennsylvania, conservation districts, watershed groups and others have taken a lead role in cleaning up abandoned mine sites with assistance from federal and state agencies. ACCD and partners treated the Milk Run AMD discharge, the largest aluminum discharge in the Montour Run Watershed. 

Stormwater is water that runs over land, streets, parking lots, sidewalks and driveways after a rain or snowmelt instead of soaking into the ground.  
To make room for increased stormwater, streambanks are worn away, causing sediment to enter waterways. Stormwater does not go to a treatment plant, but instead goes directly to streams and rivers, often picking up trash, chemicals and other pollutants along the way. This process harms drinking water, fish and wildlife and recreational spaces.  
ACCD has worked in several watersheds to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce stormwater runoff. ACCD and partners have designed and installed rain gardens, native meadows, permeable pavers and other green infrastructure techniques designed to capture, filter and infiltrate stormwater runoff before it reaches streams or storm sewer systems.  

Watershed plans are used to strategically locate the most logical areas for water quality monitoring, watershed restoration projects and BMPs. This allows for the most practical and well-organized use of resources. Watershed plans come in a variety of formats, like Watershed Assessments and Implementation Plans, DCNR Rivers Conservation Plans and Municipal Pollution Reduction Plans.  

ACCD recently completed the Montour Run Watershed Assessment and Implementation Plan to describe existing watershed conditions and develop an action plan for restoration.  

ACCD views watershed education as a key to promoting and restoring ground and surface water resources. To address local watershed needs and issues, ACCD provides watershed education in the following ways:  
  • Participating in large community events 
  • Hosting professional workshops and technical training sessions 
  • Providing one-on-one field assistance  


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