Cedar Run Initiative

The Cedar Run Initiative is a multiyear project studying and implementing water quality improvements and public education within a 14 square mile suburban watershed in south central Pennsylvania.

Cedar Run is a small suburban watershed in Pennsylvania’s eastern Cumberland County maintains a naturally reproducing trout population in some pockets. Cedar Run is an important tributary to Yellow Breeches Creek, a renowned trout stream.

Eighty-five percent of Cedar Run’s 13.86 square mile watershed is underlain with limestone. Limestone aquifers, and the underground springs that emanate from them, help keep water temperatures low and conducive to trout habitat.

Stormwater is a major pollutant that impairs water quality in the creek. A 1982 study stated 75 percent of the stream is within 100 meters of a road and 89 percent within 300 meters of a road. In 2011, we can assume that that the highly developed watershed would contain more impervious cover than then. The last privately owned areas of open space in the watershed are under design for housing developments.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council compiled a Coldwater Conservation Plan.   In 2008, a more detailed study of Cedar Run was taken on by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, with the help of the Center for Watershed Protection.  While the Coldwater Conservation Plan summarized the data compiled from a myriad of sources and suggested broadly where and what should be done to improve water quality, a thorough study of the watershed pinpoints and maps specific areas for improvement.

Stormwater is simply rainwater that, rather than remaining on the land where it falls, flows off of the site.  Rainwater becomes stormwater when rain falls on impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, roads, sidewalks and even lawns.  As stormwater moves from our yards to our streams it picks up pollutants such as oil and grease from our roadways and driveways, nutrients from fertilizers on our lawns, and bacteria from pet waste and other animal excrement.  Once in the stream, the fast-moving surges of water associated with storms cause erosion and destroy habitat for fish and other wildlife.

The Alliance is working to  outline restoration possibilities in a geo-referenced format that watershed groups and local governments can use to find and implement water quality projects in their sub watersheds. Cedar Run Creek Coldwater Conservation Plan will help to build local awareness and support for the long-term stewardship of cold water streams and their surrounding watersheds.

Sporting Hill Rainwater Design Demonstration Project

Detention Basin Garden “E” is a filter, a garden and a classroom. It is also an advertisement for stormwater retrofits and green infrastructure.In addition, it is the first of many suggested stormwater improvement projects in the Cedar Run Watershed.

View the Stormwater Management Concept Plan (.pdf)

The garden demonstrates how a large-mowed depression can become both a major landscape feature and a better way to manage stormwater.

Alliance staff worked closely with teachers, facility staff and two professors of Penn State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture to brainstorm what the garden should look like and how they wanted to use it. This garden has a few jobs to do. As a stormwater control device, it must slow and clean the rain water that carries pollutants from lawns and roads before emptying it into Cedar Run Creek, but it also must beautify and provide educational value to the school.

The partners administered an online survey asking parents, teachers and community members to look at photographs of other green infrastructure projects asking them they found attractive and what they didn’t.  Penn State students, under the supervision of Drs. Stuart Echols and Eliza Pennypacker, used that input to design five hydrological areas to better manage stormwater on the campus.

Designs are based on the principals of Artful Rainwater Design which has at its core drawing people in to stormwater design for its beauty and not just its function. The goal is to bring water management and pollution to the forefront of people’s minds by providing beautiful and educational spaces that function to clean stormwater before it reaches the creek, not hide it in pipes and drains that allow pollutants to reach waterways.

biotention drawing

The first of the projects to be installed is the 25,000 square foot Detention Basin Garden. Teachers and students are excited about this new stormwater device; it will double as an outdoor classroom.

One of the major goals of this project is to encourage other large corporate landowners to retrofit part of the property to reduce stormwater.

The Alliance also designed two raingardens in the Cedar Run Watershed in public areas where people can learn about landscaping with water quality in mind. The Camp Hill United Methodist Church and the Armitage Golf Course in Hampden Township. Interpretive Signage will be installed on each of these sites explaining the function of the raingardens.

Watershed Assessment and Stormwater Retrofit Inventory

cedar-run-watershedThe Cedar Run Watershed is located in eastern Cumberland County, in Central Pennsylvania within the Great Valley Section of the Ridge and Valley Province. It is a largely urban watershed and most of its lands are privately owned.  Cedar Run is designated as a cold water fishery by PA Department of Environmental Protection and supports a naturally reproducing brown trout population despite its urban surroundings.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay partnered with the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Center for Watershed Protection in 2008 to conduct watershed assessment of the creek.  Field teams made up of Center for Watershed Protection and Alliance staff and volunteers from area watershed groups walked 12 miles of stream and conducted upland surveys over a week’s time. Those data collected are being compiled into a report that outlines water-quality improvements throughout the watershed, including stormwater retrofits, stream restoration and neighborhood education projects.   The Cedar Run Watershed Assessment and Stormwater Retrofit Inventory(WASI) will be complete by December, 2011. Funding for the WASI was provided in part by the Pa Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The Sporting Hill Elementary School Rainwater Design project is one of many suggested retrofit projects by the WASI. It was facilitated by partners to demonstrate how green infrastructure can be used to control stormwater but also provide amenity to a site.  That project is being funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds.

Download the  Cedar Run Watershed Assessment and  Stormwater Retrofit Inventory (.pdf)

Leslie Weller Pennsylvania Program Coordinator, Pennsylvania Office

Leslie is Program Coordinator for the Alliance's Pennsylvania office. She coordinates several of our Pennsylvania programs, such as Reduce Your Stormwater.

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