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What's Up at the Upper Roxborough Reservoir

Water department work will be be balanced by environmental group's efforts.

Work will proceed at the Upper Roxborough Reservoir and the public may soon have some input as to the final product.

With the Philadelphia Water Department and Parks and Recreation's project to better control stormwater management at the Upper Roxborough Reservoir, an environmental group will advise the city on certain aspects.

From Natural Lands Trust, Peter Williamson discussed with the Upper Roxborough Civic Association June 13 how his group and the public will work to maintain the pristine nature of the 34-acre area bounded by Eva, Summit, Port Royal and Lare streets.

Largely a nature site, the Upper Roxborough Reservoir possesses two large basins—one dry and one wet. The Water Department's aim is to control stormwater better by using the land and by flattening areas, extending pipes, and creating two large swales to collect water. Williamson said the goal was for water to enter the ground within two hours and alleviate the strain on neighbors.

Due to the project's nature, lots of dirt will be moved around. Natural Lands Trust, a third party group, will work to help shape that dirt so it's more environmentally friendly.

The group helps organizations purchase and maintain open space through legal or landscape architect work. Around Roxborough, Natural Lands Trust was involved at Manatawna Farms, Germany Hill, the for Environmental Education and Blair Meadows in Shawmont—the Roxborough Review details the latter project here.

Initially, NLT applied for a $25,000 state grant on the project. The city then followed by pledging an additional $25,000. NLT holds three primary goals: controlling existing and new vegetation, improving public use and interpreting the reservoirs.

In addition, the group will work with the city to determine how to spend $50,000 for tree replanting.

Rich Giordano, vice president for the civic, said Natural Lands Trust is a welcome addition to make the project work.

"The Water Department project is just another moving part to get the Park's Department and your gears in place," he said.

One neighbor asked if the project will impact the from the Schuylkill Center. Giordano said if anything, it helps the toads and could provide a habitat for them to avoid car traffic.

Coming up, an advisory council of residents, NLT and city officials will form. Then a series of three public meetings to elicit resident input will commence. The meetings will, respectively, cover general info, plan presentation with questions and feedback, and a look at the final plan with amendments.

"We will be in touch with you all along the way. It's foolish to not involve the impacted neighborhood," Williamson said. 

The first meeting could be July 1. Check back for more information.

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