Birmingham Township, PA Environmental Stream Team

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Birmingham Township, PA, US

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Type: Program

Status: Ongoing

Source File:


The Birmingham Environmental Stream Team (BEST) is dedicated to improving the quality of the streams in our township. Team members have worked with and completed training at respected agencies such as the Brandywine Valley Association (BVA), Stroud Research Center, the Brandywine Conservancy and the Delaware Watershed Association. B.E.S.T. has completed numerous stream tests and has completed riparian buffer projects that will improve stream quality in the future. Our goal is to work with landowners to assist in improving overall stream quality.

Our team has taken two on-site workshops with the staff of Brandywine Valley Association, attends yearly watershed workshops, consults with professionals at Stroud Research Center, BVA , Brandywine Conservancy and Delaware Watershed Association.

We have tested several of our streams on multiple sites in spring and fall for three and half years. We are expanding our studies from Brinton’s Run, Plum Run, and Radley Run to Wylie and Renwick. Recently at the request of home owners, we have tested several ponds, which opens up new information and learning.

Habitat Assessment, which focuses on stream bank conditions, sedimentation, water velocity and buffer impact. Due to the dire effects of storm water run off, B.E.S.T. may soon invest in a more accurate velocity reader to record storm events and effects on local streams.

Macro invertebrate count, which records the tiny critters that make up stream life and classifies them as “sensitive”, “slightly tolerant” or “pollution tolerant” (as an example: stonefly nymphs flourish in high quality water, a dragon fly can get by with less than perfect conditions and a leech will live at ease in polluted water.) The index count of each type of macro invertebrate is a key indicator of stream quality. Chemical analysis, which includes tests for dissolved oxygen, orthophosphate, pH, and nitrate. This may soon expand into a fecal content test in specific areas.


1. With your help

2. Through accumulated data and research providing information needed to move forward

3. By communicating this information to residents, Home Owner Associations and township officials with suggestions provided by professionals so that each of us can contribute to stream quality improvement

4. By recommending improvement and remedial efforts which may include the planting of recommended species on stream bank for stabilization and chemical filtration (riparian buffers).

Streams are the collection point for run-off from streets, roofs, driveways, parking lots, lawns, farms, fields, etc. Even the storm sewers ultimately feed into the streams. Thus streams of all sizes are indicators of the quality of our environment. Sediments, chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, drugs, paints, oils, etc, that are washed into the streams impact the variety and quality of stream life (macro invertebrates and plants that live there). The amount of run-off also impacts the stream with high flows from storm events scraping and flushing away everything in the stream. As we pave over more land with roads, parking lots, and roofs, more water gushes into the stream causing bank erosion and flooding. Our testing has shown that several of our local streams have nitrate levels much higher than acceptable for stream life. We also see a great deal of bank erosion due to flooded streams. Planting trees and shrubs adjacent to stream banks and not mowing within 35 feet helps mitigate the erosion and the run off of chemicals into the stream.