Cocalico Creek

A Pollutant Reduction Plan Helps Cocalico Creek Clean Up Its Act

Although you might not know it just by looking at it, the Cocalico Creek watershed has water quality issues. Located in Lebanon and north-central Lancaster counties, Cocalico Creek is a tributary of the Conestoga River, which then flows into the Susquehanna River, eventually draining into the Chesapeake Bay. More than 52 miles of stream within the watershed are listed as impaired on Pennsylvania’s 303(d) list. 303(d) listing means that one or more pollutants are negatively impacting the watershed and work must be done to correct the problem.

The Challenge

Cocalico Creek is on the list of impaired waters primarily because of sediment and nutrient pollution from agricultural activities like animal grazing and crop growing. Some of the creek’s smaller tributaries are also negatively impacted by urban runoff from roads and yards, as well as storm sewer discharges. And unlike other watersheds in the area like Chiques Creek, Conewago Creek, and Lititz Run, no Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan exists for Cocalico Creek. That means there at the time there was no strategy for limiting pollution in the watershed.

The Solution

In early summer of 2014, LandStudies began working on a Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan (CBPRP) for the Cocalico Creek watershed. This plan outlines the requirements set forth in the surrounding communities’ Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4). Staff used computer modeling to determine how much sediment and nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) were in the Cocalico Creek watershed. They also looked at the different best management practices (BMPs) that were already in place to reduce sediment and nutrients. From this evaluation, staff developed the plan, which outlines steps the municipalities within the watershed can take to manage the stormwater runoff and pollution entering the creek. This includes the installation of new BMPs, a public education and outreach campaign, training for municipal staff, among other activities.

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