Water Science Institute, Partners Celebrated Big Spring Run Legacy Sediment Stream Restoration Project In Lancaster County

On September 30, the Water Science Institute and its partners hosted a celebration of the Big Spring Run Legacy Sediment Stream Restoration Project in West Lampeter Township, Lancaster County.

Encompassing 15 years of pre and post restoration science, design and implementation, the experiment today is recognized as a significant achievement in floodplain and stream restoration and a milestone partnership between funders, landowners, scientists, regulatory agencies and environmental professionals.

With significant funding from the DEP Growing Greener Program, the investment is now widely recognized as a paradigm shift in sustainable infrastructure and economic cost effectiveness.  

Allyson Gibson, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Programs for the Lancaster Clean Water Partners served as Master of Ceremonies.

Click Here for the details on this special event.  Questions should be directed to Joe Sweeney, Executive Director, Water Science Institute – joe@waterscienceinstitute.org or 717-579-2514.


The Big Spring Run tributary is a headwater system that has been affected by historical human activities, including legacy sediments deposited behind mill dam ponds.

Click Here for a video explanation of legacy sediments by Mark Gutshall of LandStudies in October of 2007.

Big Spring Run became characterized by severe streambank erosion and stream bed degradation, with the nutrient-rich sediment released through these erosional processes affecting downstream water quality.

Under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the Big Spring Run floodplain restoration project in southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, helped establish Chesapeake Bay protocols for defining reductions in pollutant loads through individual floodplain restoration projects.

The restoration, which is part of a research project led by Franklin & Marshall College scientists Robert Walter, Ph.D., and Dorothy Merritts, Ph.D., was designed to return the bottom of the stream valley to its historical condition, creating a wetland-meadow valley bottom complex.

Environmental engineers, geologists, botanists, landowners and Franklin & Marshall students provided eight years of scientific research and monitoring that allowed LandStudies to design this project to improve water quality in the watershed, enhance wildlife habitat, and provide added flood volume storage by returning the bottom of the stream valley to its historic condition, restoring the floodplain and stream and creating a wetland-meadow valley bottom complex.

The project removed 21,721 cubic yards of legacy sediment, restored 1,479 linear feet of stream valley and 3,074 linear feet of stream channel.

LandStudies surveyed and developed design/construction documents, prepared permit applications and coordinated with federal, state, and local agencies to obtain approval to construct the project in compliance with clean water laws.

The project improves water quality downstream, provides improved wildlife habitat, and provides added flood storage volume.

LandStudies served as Prime Contractor, responsible for all on-site activities including construction services, erosion and sedimentation control installation and planting services, routine post-construction inspections to evaluate site stability and vegetation establishment, and post-construction maintenance to promote indigenous vegetation and suppress invasive species competition.

For more background on the project--

-- Big Spring Restoration Project [StoryMap]

-- Big Spring Run Experiment [Video]

-- Legacy Landscapes - Dam Removal & Restoration Opportunities In Chesapeake Bay Watershed  [StoryMap]

-- Legacy Sediments, Floodplain Restoration With Mark Gutshall, LandStudies [Video - October, 2007]

-- LandStudies: Floodplain Restoration

-- LandStudies: Stream and Floodplain Restoration Projects

-- PA Environmental Council: Big Spring Run Floodplain Restoration

Related Articles This Week:

-- Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Bay Executive Council Fails To Hold Pennsylvania Accountable For Its Water Pollution Cleanup Commitments [PaEN]  [PA’s #2 Water Pollution Problem - Agricultural Runoff]

-- Appalachian Voices: Congress Fails To Reauthorize Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program; People In Pennsylvania Have Worked For 5 Years So Far To Get Their Members Of Congress And General Assembly To Act On This Critical Issue  [PaEN]  [PA’s #1 Water Pollution Problem - Mine Drainage]

-- WPCAMR: Federal Mine Reclamation Fee Expired Sept. 30 - Congress Considers The Future Of Mine Reclamation Program  [PaEN]  [PA’s #1 Water Pollution Problem - Mine Drainage]

-- Senate Committee Reports Out Bipartisan Bill Allocating $500 Million In American Rescue Fund Monies For Local Environmental Improvement, Recreation Projects [PaEN]

Related Article - Green Infrastructure:

-- Green Infrastructure Offers Triple Benefits, Cost Effective Solutions To Stormwater Pollution, Reducing Flood Damage

Related Articles - Legacy Sediment:

-- Opinion: Averting the Coming Chesapeake Bay Crisis: The Forgotten Role of the Private Sector By Mark Gutshall  [February, 2005]

-- Chesapeake Bay Commission Hosts Legacy Sediments Presentation  [June, 2005]

-- F&M Policy Workshop Set for September on Legacy Sediments  [2005]

-- Video Blog Feature: Legacy Sediments, Floodplain Restoration [October, 2007]

-- New Book: Floodplain Restoration Improves Water Quality, Reduces Flood Damage  [2007]

-- Franklin & Marshall Professors Announce Legacy Sediments Article in Science [2008]

-- Online Video Features - New York Times Features Legacy Sediment Researchers Merritts, Walter [2008]

-- F&M Highlights Big Spring Run Stream, Floodplain Restoration Efforts In Lancaster [2016]

-- Feature: Parks To The Rescue On Stormwater, Flooding [2016]

-- Rock Lititz Project Reduces Sediment, Nutrient Runoff Without Taxpayer Money [2016]

-- Bay Journal: Removing Legacy Sediment Reduces Runoff Pollution, Restores Habitat  [2018]

-- Water Science Institute Report Finds Legacy Sediment Floodplain Restoration Extremely Cost, Land Efficient  [2019]

-- Wetlands Work: Matthew & Megan Kirchner Big Spring Run Restoration In Lancaster County  [2020]

-- Water Science Institute Storymap Shows How Old Mill Dams, Land Use & Legacy Sediments In Lancaster County Affect Water Quality  [2020]

-- Water Science Institute Receives National Recognition For Legacy Sediments Article From Soil And Water Conservation Society  [2020]

[Posted: September 27, 2021]


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