Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership

David Freed Photographer B) 2016i

To download a high resolution, printer-friendly PDF of the information below CLICK HERE.

Water is a natural resource upon which we all depend. Ensuring that local waterways are clean is not simply an expenditure of funds, it is a necessary investment to ensure the future of our communities.



Working Together
for a Cleaner Wissahickon


The Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership (WCWP) is a coalition of 13 municipalities and four wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) collaborating to improve the health of the Wissahickon Creek! The Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address impaired health of aquatic life and inadequate stormwater management in the Wissahickon Creek Watershed. The Partnership's overarching goal is to synthesize a holistic watershed plan that protects and improves the Wissahickon Creek for all to enjoy. By working together on a coordinated solution, the coalition aims to emphasize local interests, to ensure that no municipality is alone in combating pollution, and to help municipalities, sewer authorities, and taxpayers keep costs down in the long run.

Participating Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs):

Abington Township WWTP, Ambler Borough WWTP, Upper Gwynedd Township WWTP, Upper Dublin Township WWTP (BCWSA)


Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership​​​​​​​ Legal & Technical Assistance Partners:

Cerulean LLC; Environmental Finance Center- University of Maryland; Kleinfelder, Inc.; Land Concepts LLC.; Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP.; Montgomery County Planning Commission; Pennsylvania Environmental Council; Temple University; and Wissahickon Trails

About the Wissahickon Creek Watershed


The Wissahickon Creek Watershed is located in southeastern Pennsylvania, in Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. The headwaters begin just below a parking lot in a large suburban mall. The mainstem flows approximately 27 miles before joining with the Schuylkill River in the City of Philadelphia. The watershed drains 64 square miles and spans portions of 15 municipalities.


The mainstem of the Wissahickon and most of its tributaries are considered impaired for aquatic life uses by the PA DEP. This impairment determination is largely based on the results of long-term aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling in the watershed. Many of these stream stretches are also classified as impaired due to nutrient and siltation levels. In response to the impairment and new EPA/PA DEP regulations, thirteen municipalities and four wastewater treatment plants of the Wissahickon Watershed joined together to form the Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership. Since its formation, the Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership has been working on a watershed-wide Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP) that would restore the health of the Wissahickon Creek and its tributaries and would include addressing regional stormwater management issues.

What is a water quality plan?


Short for Water Quality Improvement Plan, the Partnership’s WQIP is an adaptive, flexible management plan and will provide a mechanism to improve water quality, stormwater management, and habitat in the Wissahickon Creek Watershed through continual incorporation of new data and information and identification of opportunities and actions to positively impact the watershed over time.

David Freedi

The Water Quality Improvement Plan serves as a roadmap for municipalities and participating WWTPs to identify and prioritize projects, policies, and collaborative programs where efficiencies can be gained by working together. It includes a framework to assess the effectiveness of the plan and provide regular evidence-based updates.


Components of the Water Quality Improvement Plan include:

  • STORMWATER PROJECTS & POLICIES: Over 60 projects throughout the watershed have been identified that if implemented, will mitigate stormwater impacts. Participating municipalities have also committed to evaluating the adoption of stronger local policies to protect the Wissahickon Creek.
  • TREATMENT PLANTS OPTIMIZATION: Wastewater treatment plants in the Watershed have also committed to optimizing their operations to further reduce nutrient loads to the Creek.
  • PUBLIC EDUCATION AND OUTREACH: The Water Quality Improvement Plan calls for educational outreach to raise awareness of the Partnership’s efforts and its importance to participating communities.
  • IMPLEMENTATION METRICS: Annual tracking of progress through the monitoring of BMPs* implemented, increases in area treated by BMPs, increases in linear feet of stream restoration and bank stabilization, increases in protected open space, and water quality in the Creek.
  • REPORTING: The Water Quality Improvement Plan includes reporting methods to the state agencies and participating communities.


*Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) are devices and actions that improve or prevent pollution and/or flooding resulting from stormwater runoff.

Benefits of Working Together


In the face of increasingly stringent (and costly) environmental regulations, the many benefits of municipalities and wastewater treatment plants working together as part of the Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership include:

 Accomplishments to Date


  • INTER-GOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENTS: The Partnership consists of 13 municipalities and 4 wastewater treatment facilities. Each has signed off on an inter-governmental agreement committing the municipality and WWTP to the goals and objectives of the Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership.

  • DATA COLLECTED: A comprehensive sampling plan has been designed and implemented. We now have a clear understanding of the Wissahickon Creek and a better view of the causes of impairment.

  • SCIENTIFIC MODEL DEVELOPED & PROJECTS IDENTIFIED: Multiple methods of analysis including modeling of the watershed have been used to identify over 60 priority projects across all thirteen municipalities in the watershed. These analyses will help us focus on what matters most.

  • DRAFT WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PLAN CREATED & REVISED: The draft Water Quality Improvement Plan has been developed and submitted to the EPA and PA DEP. Feedback from regulators is currently being integrated for a revised submission. The Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership expects adoption of the Water Quality Improvement Plan by EPA & PA DEP in 2023.

Making a Bigger, More Lasting Impact


The strategies proposed by the Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership in the Water Quality Improvement Plan are anticipated to treat more acres for water quality and stormwater management than more traditional approaches offered through the development of individual Pollution Reduction Plans (PRP/PRP Plus).

Project Implementation Goals


  • Reduce Volume & Velocity of Stormwater
  • Restore Baseflow of Waterways
  • Reduce Impervious Land Cover
  • Improve Natural Habitats
  • Reduce Erosion of Waterways
  • Improve Ecological Conditions of Waterways
Decision-Making in the Partnership


The Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership is a voluntary collaboration where every participating municipality has a say in what happens with the Partnership.


The Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership Management Committee is comprised of municipal representatives (usually a municipal staff member) from each participating community in the Watershed. It serves as the main governing body, guiding decision-making in the Partnership and formulating recommendations that the representatives can then take back to elected officials in their respective municipalities for consideration.

Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership Stakeholders
Understanding the Cost


Containing/reducing the costs of restoring the Wissahickon Watershed is one of the main reasons for the Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership. Federal and state environmental regulations have only become stricter (and more costly) overtime. By pooling the resources and finances of the Partnership’s member communities, the Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership is intended to help municipalities comply with these stricter regulations while reducing costs through the achievement of greater economies of scale.


In preparation for the approval of the Water Quality Improvement Plan by federal and state regulators, the Partnership has started developing a funding formula that would distribute the anticipated costs to participating municipalities in an equitable fashion based on the following factors:


  • Impervious cover
  • Land area in the watershed
  • Number of impaired streams
  • Wastewater flow
  • Population


Based on the current funding formula being considered by the Partnership, the anticipated annual administrative allocation would be $10,000 per municipality and treatment plant with annual project allocations ranging from under $50,000 to over $400,000 for each municipality. It should be noted that grant funds will also be pursued to offset municipal costs.

To download a high resolution, printer-friendly PDF of the above information CLICK HERE.
How can I get involved in this effort? 


The continued participation of each municipality is critical to this collaborative effort. Reach out to your municipal officials to thank them for their ongoing participation and dedication to protecting and restoring Wissahickon Creek! 


Join our email list to recieve general information about upcoming events, projects, and news at Wissahickon Trails - we will share updates here about the Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership as they arise! Or you can learn more about what you can do at home and in your own backyard to protect and care for our local streams!