Pennypack

Overview

Pennypack Creek rises from headwater springs and wetlands in the suburbs of Horsham, Warminster, and Upper Southampton, then gains strength along its middle mainstem in Upper Moreland, Bryn Athyn, Lower Moreland and Abington. The creek then drops into the winding greenbelt of Philadelphia’s Pennypack Park before discharging into a broad mudflat on the Delaware River. Whether you’re biking along the new rail-to-trail in Lorimer Park or strolling along the creek in Fairmount Park or the many municipal parks, you can enjoy seeing many types of birds, fish, plants, reptiles and amphibians. You could even be following in the footsteps of John James Audubon, famed American naturalist who is said to have spent many hours in the Pennypack woods. Other watershed attractions include the restored warm season meadows, open spaces and wooded trails of the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust, numerous golf courses, Fetter’s Mill Historic District in Bryn Athyn, and Bethayres Swamp, an important wetland habitat recently acquired in Lower Moreland Township.

Lower Pennypack Creek has long been preserved within Fairmount Park, edged by the neighborhoods and urban centers of Northeast Philadelphia. Watershed residents and organizations continue to acquire and restore a network of preserves, parks, and protected lands with the ultimate goal of establishing a greenway along the length of the creek that offers a variety of recreational, personal, and stewardship experiences.

Fast Facts

Area

drains approximately 56 square miles

Stream Miles

approximately 125 linear miles

Population

approximately 230,000 residents

Impervious Cover

approximately 33% impervious

Counties / Municipalities

encompasses areas of Montgomery, Philadelphia and Bucks Counties, with all or parts of 12 municipalities, including Abington, Bryn Athyn, Hatboro, Horsham, Lower Moreland, Rockledge, Upper Dublin, Upper Moreland, Upper Southampton, and Warminster

Partnerships

Within the Pennypack Watershed exists a myriad of spirited residents, community groups, businesses, and institutions that advocate partnership opportunities to protect and enhance watershed and waterway resources. Learn more about these stewards, their initiatives, and how you can make a difference in the Pennypack Watershed.

Watershed Resources

Interactive Map

This dynamic map will enable you to see the specific locations of featured projects and PWD initiatives within this watershed.

Virtual Tours

Take our Watershed Tour to see notable landmarks and hidden treasures that define the character of this watershed's past, present and future. Or get a glimpse of the creek itself through our Waterway Tour.

History

Source water protection and the development of water and stormwater infrastructure helped shape the character of our watersheds. Understanding this history is fundamental to stormwater management strategies and other site development regulations we implement today.

Key Documents/Maps

These core documents and maps reflect the research and planning we've conducted in order to assess the condition of this watershed and strategize future improvements.

Data

A wealth of data is available for you to learn more about the health and quality of this watershed's waterways.

Watershed Issues

The Pennypack Creek Watershed Comprehensive Characterization Report (2009) identified the following watershed issues based on thorough assessments of water quality, physical habitat, and biological data:

  • Urbanization and flow modification
  • Erosion and sedimentation
  • Degraded water quality, primarily due to nutrient enrichment, excess sediment, and bacteria.
  • Impaired fish and other aquatic life communities
  • Excessive algal growth

What We're Doing

  • PWD Aquatic Biologists completed the Pennypack Creek Watershed Comprehensive Characterization Report in 2009. This report contains detailed monitoring and modeling results, including hydrology, water quality, biology, physical habitat, and pollutant loadings.
  • PWD is partnering with the United States Geological Survey to collect real-time water quality data from two USGS Gage Stations within Pennypack Creek Watershed. Water quality data are available on the PWD-USGS Water Resources Monitoring website.
  • The Pennypack Watershed Partnership was initiated in 2004 and developed a Rivers Conservation Plan in fall of 2005.
  • Several fish passage projects have been completed in Pennypack Creek Watershed with the help of our partners the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, American Rivers, NOAA, Fairmount Park, and Southeastern Montgomery County Trout Unlimited. These projects include removal of dams as well as an innovative rock ramp fishway which provides fish passage while protecting valuable sewer infrastructure.
  • An Integrated Watershed Management Plan will soon be developed for this watershed based on the technical foundation of the Comprehensive Characterization Report and with the participation of watershed stakeholders.
  • PWD provides technical assistance to prevent erosion and improve water quality for watershed residents with homes along the Pennypack Creek or one of its tributaries through the Backyard Buffer Program.

What's In It For You

Our watershed partners provide a wide array of opportunities to learn and get involved:

  • The Pennypack Environmental Center offers educational and volunteer opportunities in the way of naturalist exhibits, a reference library, and an amphitheatre for story-telling and outdoor classes. The organization also has an Advisory Council that helps to further the operation and development of the center. Consider getting involved with advocacy, fund raising, service-learning projects, special event planning, and more!
  • The Pennypack Greenway Partnership is leading the initiative to preserve, protect and restore a natural buffer and public access along the mainstem and tributaries of the Pennypack Creek, creating a true regional connection for all watershed residents. www.pennypackgreenway.org Pennypack Greenway Brochure
  • The Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust is the steward of protected land in its Pennypack Preserve natural area. Take a nature walk or volunteer! www.pennypacktrust.org
  • A Watershed Study of the Pennypack Creek, which resulted in updated FEMA floodplain delineations for the creek and its tributaries, was completed in the fall of 2006 by the Temple University Center for Sustainable Communities and is available at: http://www.csc.temple.edu/projects/projects_pennypack.htm
  • Work with the dedicated fishermen of the Southeastern Montgomery County Trout Unlimited Chapter (#468). This grassroots group is working to conserve, protect, and restore cold water fisheries. Examples of their efforts can be found in Lorimer Park, where they have installed stream bank protection and fish habitat enhancement projects. You can lend this group a hand with their field projects, then maybe learn about some good fishing holes.
  • The Friends of Pennypack Park educates and informs park users about the natural, cultural, and historical features of the park. Volunteers on the Trees and Trails Committee repair trails and plant trees across the park.
  • Get your hands in the dirt at the Pennypack Farm Education Center in Horsham. The farm manager can use volunteers for a variety of activities in the field, ranging from planting, weeding, pruning, and harvesting to equipment and structural maintenance activities.