Racing for water quality

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Runners race to raise money so the Newlin Grist Mill Park can purchase water monitoring equipment. (Courtesy image.)

Newlin Grist Mill Park and Concord Township are again teaming up to promote water quality. The second annual Race for the Watershed and Rubber Duck Regatta is scheduled for next Saturday, June 15. Last year’s event raised $10,000 for water monitoring equipment for the park. And they’re hoping for the same this year.

Brenda Orso, the development manager at the park, said the monitoring equipment is important to the park

“It’s important to us because our water is essential for everything we do here,” Orso said. “We have trout ponds, people come fishing in the ponds. A lot of community members come play in the stream, they fish in the stream, and it speaks to the overall health and quality of water in our region. And it’s not just for people, it’s for the organisms that live in the water.”

The newer monitoring equipment uses digital readouts instead of testing the water chemically. Orso said the newer digital gives results in minutes instead of hours.

“[Digital equipment] is more accurate, so there’s less margin for error, and we can monitor more frequently, faster, which saves us time, and is more accurate. It allows us to see problems as they’re developing and helps us to better communicate those issues,” she added.

Concord Township’s Parks and Recreation Director Steve Jacobs concurs with Orso.

“It is important to conduct snap-shot studies to determine water conditions in these areas. This race will help to fund the purchase of advanced water quality monitoring equipment, as well as provide broader education and awareness on the importance of watershed preservation,” he said.

Jacobs further said that the digital equipment “measures dissolved oxygen, which relates to aquatic plant and animal health, conductivity — salt runoff — dissolved nutrients — high levels can be indicative of significant erosion — agricultural/lawn runoff, and wastewater inputs from septic systems), and temperature.”

That information, he said, allows the park management to “make decisions and advocate for regional actions that impact water quality.”

Last year’s Run for the Watershed saw 130 runners do the 5K, and there were 400 rubber ducks sponsored in their floating race through the portion of Chester Creek that runs through the park. The winner of last year’s 5K was Tony Rock who finished twice. Rock ran the race in 20 minutes and 24 seconds, then went back to his wife who was walking the race with their baby in a stroller.

The 5K begins at 8:30 a.m. on June 15, with registration beginning at 8, and the duck race starts at 10 with a champion duck race at 12:15 p.m.

Anyone interested in “buying” a duck should go here. Ducks are $20 a piece or $50 for three.

There will also be a celebration for the grand reopening of the water system at 1 p.m. The raceway that powers the old mill was shut down for several years because of excess silting resulting from the widening of the upper portion of Conchester Highway. Even the fishing ponds were dry for years. They just reopened in April.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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