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The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed:



By the TTF Partnership and Philadelphia Water Department

draft June 2009

for a




What exactly is a watershed?

A watershed is a drainage basin, within which all water flows to a single location.

Water flows in opposite directions on each side of a ridge. Creeks form in the valleys between ridges.


Rockledge Cheltenham East Mount Airy East Oak Lane Oxford Circle


East Germantown

Frankford Hunting Park

Juniata Park

Some creeks are no longer visible because they have been enclosed in pipes and integrated into the sewer system. All the water exits at an outlet that is typically at the lowest elevation of the watershed into another body of water.


Fertile Ground For A Destination Watershed

Laying the groundwork for restoring the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Creek corridor toward a vision of creek health and community wealth.

Fertile Ground for Healthy creeks

Fertile Ground for Distinctive Recreation

Fertile Ground for Stormwater Innovation

The watershed hosts several creeks,

The TTF watershed is home to about

The waters of the TTF watershed and

wetlands, and uplands that support

357,000 people with a range of

its underground infrastructure stitch

diverse communities of wildlife and

income levels and backgrounds, and

together many diverse communities

fish. Like all of our urban creeks, the

a variety of community strengths

in Montgomery and Philadelphia

waters within the TTF watershed

and struggles. One could imagine the

Counties. Although some communi-

have been compromised by intense

creek would serve as a meeting place

ties feel disconnected from their


for relaxation, recreation, inspiration,

local creek because of limited access

and community connection.

or because it has been enclosed by

Today, many areas along and within

the sewer system, all neighborhoods

the creek suffer from frequent flood-

Because of the area’s topography,

in this watershed drain to the creek

ing, invasive species, litter and illegal

much of the parkland within the

and must share responsibility for its

dumping that compromises the creek’s

creek corridor is below street level,

health. It is therefore important for

health, beauty, and habitat value, and

creating secluded oases within a

neighborhoods in the watershed to

this deters residents from enjoying the

highly urbanized area. However, the

work together to manage stormwater.

many benefits healthy creeks offer.

frequent flooding and widespread

Restoring the creek environment

invasive species reduce the quality

The TTF watershed is already home to

of these parks.

a number of demonstration projects

to a more natural state wherever

that exhibit best practices in storm-

possible and committing to respon-

A number of core trails exist within

water management. These projects

sible stewardship of the watershed

the watershed and along the creek,

have become sources of community

will improve water quality, generate

and plans show the intentions of all

pride and examples for using green

healthier habitats, and create envi-

the municipalities to connect these

infrastructure to reduce stormwater

ronmental education opportunities.

trails into a cohesive network.

volume in the city’s sanitary system.


An UNHEALTHY creek corridor cannot perform essential ecological functions. Flood Storage

Poor Filtration/Trapping

Poor Filtration/Trapping

Sediment Settling

Flood waters erode creek banks, washing away valuable soil and native vegetation. Banks are left bare or are overcome by aggressive invasive plants.

Bank erosion exposes the sewer system infrastructure, leaving pipes and manholes susceptible to damage.

Trash and debris overwhelm the landscape.

Fast-moving flood waters wash away sediment, which is critical to the health of the creek habitat. Without sediment, fish habitat and food wash away.

Creek banks become steeply eroded after floods, creating a wide, shallow creek during dry weather.

Invasive species overtake compromised creek banks, decreasing its habitat value and increasing maintenance costs.


Fertile Ground For Healthy Creeks

Creek restoration repairs scoured and littered creek beds, improves water quality and allows native plants and animals to flourish.

A HEALTHY creek corridor performs critical ecological functions. Flood Storage


Nutrient Uptake; Stormwater Detention

Native species filter runoff, stabilize creek banks and provide habitat.

Sediment Settling

Naturalized, shallow banks encourage vegetation that provide habitat and food for wildlife.

Deep creek channels are fed by abundant groundwater.


Nutrient Uptake; Stormwater Detention

Established plants and engineered methods stabilize creek banks, preventing erosion.

Floodplains support vital habitat and vegetation.


Frequent flooding degrades landscapes and makes investment in development and maintenance difficult. Upland Runoff and Neglect

Adjacent upland parcels have little investment value.

Slopes are undermined by runoff.

Compromised Recreational Landscape

The landscape is unhealthy and suffers from illegal dumping and invasive vegetation.

Neglected public lands encourage illegal recreation.

Compromised Creek Corridor

Frequent floods strip floodplains of native vegetation, encourage invasives, deposit debris and compromise the recreational and ecological value of adjacent lands.

Creek banks are steeply eroded.


Fertile Ground For Distinctive Recreation

Restoration of the floodplain creates spaces for recreation and development sites, enhanced by proximity to the creek.

Watershed-wide stormwater management halts cycles of damage and allows for sustainable investment. Reinvestment and Decreased Runoff

A restored creek landscape can increase its value to the community and encourage nearby investments.

Decreased runoff allows for rehabitation of upland slopes with native plants.

Restored Recreational Landscape

Reduced flooding and runoff allows for reclaimed parkland that is healthier and more valuable.

Investments in landscape features and park maintenance support diverse and enhanced recreation.

Restored Creek Corridor

Restored floodplains and creek channels increase flood storage capacity, improve habitat, and encourage community access.


A TYPICAL urban watershed has negative effects on its creeks: Residential Roof and Alley Runoff

Overuse of water for household and personal needs adds additional stress on the municipal water system.

Road and Sidewalk Runoff

Roof runoff goes into roof leaders and pipes; it does not absorb into the ground.

Too few street trees to retain stormwater through canopy and root system intercept.

Stormwater drains quickly; does not absorb into the ground.

A more SUSTAINABLE approach to stormwater will positively affect the watershed: Roof and Alley Runoff Reduction

More efficient household water use reduces stress on the municipal water and sewer systems.

Planters, rain barrels and cisterns retain stormwater, provide gardening water.

Road and Sidewalk Runoff Reduction and Filtration

Green roofs collect and Permeable paving in parking lanes redivert runoff from the municipal water system. duces road runoff.

Larger, enhanced Groves and swales street tree networks in parking lots filter filter and store runoff. and slow runoff.


Fertile Ground For Stormwater Innovation

Commercial Roof and Parking Lot Runoff

Water table/creek base flow level is lower due to reduced infiltration of stormwater.

Compromised Creek Corridor

Creek banks degrade and lose native plants due to runoff and frequent flooding; become overwhelmed with agressive invasive plants.

Commercial Roof and Parking Lot Runoff Reduction

Water table/creek base flow level is higher, ensuring drinking water supply.

Pervious parking surfaces near the creek reduce runoff.

Stormwater management is vital to improving creek health in areas near creeks and in areas distant from creeks.

Frequent overflows release untreated sewage and unfiltered stormwater into creek.

High flow velocities erode and widen the creek and make it less habitable for fish, wildlife, plants and people.

Restored Creek Corridor

Reduced runoff and contamination Fewer combined and fewer flood events allow banks sewer overflow to host native plants and wildlife. events.

Reduced runoff permits slower creek flows, more naturalized channels, and a healthier creek environment.

Fertile Ground for a Destination Watershed  
Fertile Ground for a Destination Watershed  

Excerpts from the document