Municipal Actions for Water Quality - Case Studies

Qualitative case studies are an increasingly popular tool for planners and their partners. The process of developing a case study allows researchers to capture exemplary actions, detect areas for improvement, document research questions, identify themes, and test theories and perceptions. Case studies can also provide concrete evidence to support general recommendations or abstract ideas.

To determine which municipalities to profile in a case study, DVRPC classified municipalities by different land use/land cover typologies, and followed up on 71 references or referrals MTAAP members provided. DVRPC selected and contacted municipal managers or clerks at 58 municipalities. Thirty-seven (37) municipalities participated in individual interviews; and a team of writers completed follow-up interviews with 20 municipalities and produced 15 case studies. See the document below to view a summary of the 37 overview interviews. Read each case study to learn about how very different municipalities are tackling water quality.

Case Studies

  • Download All [7.5 MB pdf]

    Download all 15 case studies in one document.

  • Abington Township, PA [1.4 MB pdf]

    Since Abington was largely developed before more modern stormwater management practices took effect, the township has long experienced severe flooding events during heavy rains and tropical storms-including some that have caused residents to lose their lives. The township has spent approximately $30 million over the past 15 years addressing runoff and flooding issues.

  • Berks County Water and Sewer Association, PA [0.6 MB pdf]

    Berks County's countywide planning in the 1990s and Albright College's established leadership in convening set the stage for municipalities, sewer and water authorities, nonprofit organizations, consulting firms, and others to work together under the Berks County Water and Sewer Association to meet different regulatory or educational goals.

  • Camden City, NJ [0.4 MB pdf]

    While Camden City is undergoing large-scale revitalization, a coalition of public and private organizations are implementing smaller-scale green infrastructure projects that improve the overall quality of life for the city's residents.

  • Cooks Creek Watershed Association, PA [0.4 MB pdf]

    The Cooks Creek Watershed Association achieves its outreach, public education, and policy goals by working with its municipalities, Durham and Springfield townships in Bucks County. Association members serve on Environmental Advisory Councils (EACs), planning commissions, and open space commissions, and integrate many of the Watershed Association's recommendations into municipal planning documents and ordinances.

  • East Bradford Township, PA [0.3 MB pdf]

    Motivated by watershed impairment caused by suburban development over the past 30 years, a township with a full slate of water quality improvement programs looks outside its boundaries and examines new funding strategies to continue protecting its waterways.

  • Hamilton Township, NJ [1.2 MB pdf]

    Hamilton Township turned negative publicity on the township's approach to managing stormwater into positive action by engaging the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program.

  • Kidder Township, PA [0.1 MB pdf]

    A resort town in the Poconos best known for Jack Frost Big Boulder ski resorts, Hickory Run State Park, and Lake Harmony, Kidder Township's economy depends on eco-tourism. Residents and businesses alike know that water quality is good business. Recognizing that what happens on the land impacts the water, Kidder Township adopted new land use regulations designed to protect and improve water quality.

  • Lower Salford Township, PA [0.4 MB pdf]

    Lower Salford Township's water quality problems, including stormwater, nutrient pollution, and sediment pollution, mainly come from existing development. The township has dedicated funding to the problem, revised its planning practices and zoning code, and worked with technical assistance providers. It leads by example with Best Management Practices (BMPs) on its golf course and municipal-owned stormwater basins.

  • Lower Saucon Township, PA [0.5 MB pdf]

    Legacy residential and industrial development in Lower Saucon Township has caused the township's streams to suffer from pollution and wildlife-harming levels of dissolved oxygen. In response, elected officials and staff are using strict land use regulation and enforcement, careful monitoring of development proposals, and land conservation strategies to improve the township's water quality.

  • Montgomery Township, PA [0.6 MB pdf]

    To better manage runoff, Montgomery Township initiated a stormwater basin naturalization program to maintain its 66 stormwater basins. A fee for small land disturbances, in lieu of installing new stormwater facilities, generates funds to support future water quality improvements.

  • City of Newark, DE [0.5 MB pdf]

    Driven by the need to fully fund repairs and maintenance to its stormwater system, the City of Newark is working to establish a stormwater utility. The city is focusing its proposed utility on repairing its existing gray stormwater infrastructure system. While repairs to the gray system are necessary and will address localized flooding concerns, they will likely not do much to limit the volume and velocity of stormwater entering local streams that is a major source of surface water quality impairments.

  • Smithfield Township, PA [0.6 MB pdf]

    Smithfield Township is a rural, forested community located between the Pocono Mountains and the Delaware Water Gap. It has experience heightened development pressure in recent decades due to its location on the periphery of the New York/North Jersey metropolitan area, as commuters move farther and farther away from the urban megalopolis. Township officials and residents both fear that if additional development and land conversion is not held in check, they will experience irreversible deterioration in water quality and quality of life.

  • Stillwater Township, NJ [0.4 MB pdf]

    Stillwater Township is a rural and forested community located in the New Jersey Highlands just south of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Tourists began coming to Stillwater in the early 1900s for its natural beauty and the pristine waters of Swartswood Lake. Due to the quality of the lake and its attractiveness to residents and visitors alike, protecting its water quality has been a priority over the past 50 years. Since 1992, these protection efforts have been led by the Swartswood Lakes and Watershed Association with financial support from New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

  • Warrington Township, PA [0.8 MB pdf]

    Warrington Township's drinking water aquifers were contaminated by perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) from the use of fire-fighting foam at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station. These contamination issues have elevated water quality to the highest priority for the township. The township has a cooperative agreement with the Air National Guard to treat water with a granular activated carbon filtration system and is currently supplying township residents with water from the North Wales Water Authority.

  • West Chester Borough, PA [1.0 MB pdf]

    This case study focuses on West Chester’s new Stream Protection Fee Program’s development and early implementation, barriers and potential solutions, and recommendations for other municipalities interested in creating a similar program.