lansaward09202018

Maura McCarthy, executive director of Friends of the Wissahickon, presents a Clean Water Partnership Award to Lansdale's Manager of Code Enforcement & Community Development Chris Kunkel, center, and wastewater treatment plant Superintendent Dan Shinskie.

LANSDALE — Borough council has received formal recognition for helping to make the area greener.

Lansdale formally received a Clean Water Partnership Award during council's Sept. 19 meeting for taking a leadership role in a regional effort to clean up the Wissahickon Creek.

"I'm here tonight to recognize and thank Lansdale Borough, along with its partners and townships, for participating in a groundbreaking collaborative initiative to achieve the Wissahickon water quality goals," said Maura McCarthy, Executive Director of Friends of the Wissahickon.

Work has been ongoing since 2016 by a consortium of 13 local municipalities and four wastewater plants, to develop a new plan to meet tightening state and federal regulations regarding water quality.

"This collaboration, the Wissahickon Clean Water Partnership, is evaluating the causes of impaired waters, and producing a watershed-wide plan to make significant improvements to stream health over the coming years," McCarthy said.

"This collaboration will provide a national model of engagement for water quality issues, and all of us in who are in these communities should feel proud of our municipal officials, engaging in the process," she said.

The consortium has worked with local nonprofits like the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association to hire experts to collect and analyze data on local water quality, and partner organizations like the Friends of the Wissahickon to help raise awareness, a model McCarthy said hasn't been seen before anywhere in the country.

"This is a really audacious, bold, collaborative move. It's very much taking federal laws, and trying to interpret them in a way that actually makes sense for local communities," she said.

The regional plan should be complete sometime in 2019, she said, and implementing its recommendations "is going to save all of us who live in this watershed a bushel of money, and make us all much happier with the cleaner drinking water and recreational park assets," she said.

Chris Kunkel, Lansdale's Manager of Code Enforcement & Community Development, acts as secretary of the partnership's management committee, and McCarthy gave the award to Kunkel and wastewater plant Superintendent Dan Shinskie.

"I know a lot of this language that we use: stormwater management, MS4, and all of that — what does it really mean?" Kunkel said.

During council's Oct. 17 meeting, "we're going to unlock the secret. We'll have a presentation for you with some live photos from our creeks, and show you exactly the impact this is having on the community," he said.

Lansdale Borough Council next meets at 9 p.m. on Oct. 3, with various committee meetings starting at 7 p.m., all at the borough municipal building, 1 Vine St. For more information or meeting agendas and materials visit www.Lansdale.org or follow @LansdalePA on Twitter.

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