Green Infrastructure Improvements at Murry Ridge Park
When Dwayne Steager, zoning and stormwater officer with West Hempfield Township, saw the underutilized, open grass field at Murry Ridge Park, he knew it was an opportunity to implement clean water best practices, educate the public, and provide a beautiful area for residents to recreate.
“The project grew from a concern I had as a public works staff member. I asked myself, why are we putting stormwater runoff directly into the headwaters of a stream?” says Steager. By treating that runoff, the township could enhance the stream, better use the property, and add educational and recreational opportunities for residents to enjoy.
To make these improvements, West Hempfield Township was awarded funds from the Lancaster Clean Water Fund in 2020. The township partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, Little Conestoga Creek Watershed Alliance, Lancaster Watershed Leadership Academy, and several property owners to make the project possible.
Murry Ridge Park, located in West Hempfield Township, is in the West Branch Little Conestoga Creek watershed surrounded by suburban, residential development. For the project, West Hempfield Township implemented practices to divert stormwater into a vegetated swale, installed a bioretention basin, planted a riparian buffer with volunteers, added landscaping to attract pollinators and songbirds, retrofitted the dry detention basin to a dry extended basin, and installed a natural trail and educational signage.
These improvements have already proven successful and will reduce stormwater pollutants, increase biodiversity and habitat for native wildlife species, and educate the public on the benefits of these projects. In addition to the water quality improvements, the public works staff learned many new skills in implementing stormwater best management practices (BMPs) and this will help with long-term operation and maintenance and future BMP implementation in other areas. In addition to the improvements funded through this grant, the township made other improvements including extending the walking trail, adding benches, and adding dog waste stations. Multiple park users have shared positive comments regarding the new features.
Initial success will be a reduction in flow during rainstorms as well as the removal of excess nutrient and sediment pollution from the stream. Expected reductions include the following:
- 610 lbs of nitrogen reduced per year
- 16 lbs of phosphorus reduced per year
- 18,626 lbs of sediment reduced per year
Countywide Action Plan Practices
- Bioretention and rain garden – 6.23 acres
- Urban forest buffer – 2 acres
- Extended dry basins – 6.75 acres
- Vegetated open channel – 6.23 acres
- Forested Buffer – 1 acre of native plantings