In 2006, the Brandywine Valley Association (BVA) initiated a program called Red Streams Blue to address the problem of impaired streams in Brandywine Creek. BVA began this initiative by creating color-coded watershed maps, in which impaired streams are shown in red, while streams that have attained their designated use were displayed in blue. The goal of the program is to ensure that all streams in the Brandywine meet water-quality standards—that red streams are turned blue.
Under this initiative, BVA completely assesses impaired watersheds to identify the impacted areas and the reasons for their impairment. From this assessment, a comprehensive restoration plan is developed to specify the corrective actions necessary for water quality improvement. Finally, projects are selected and implemented. Red Streams Blue also includes an extensive education and outreach program that teaches residents how to be good watershed stewards. To monitor improvements in water quality, BVA has established volunteer teams to conduct chemical and biological testing at sites in its restoration watersheds.
In March 2007, funding from the Environmental Stewardship Fund (ESF) helped BVA launch Red Streams Blue in the Radley Run watershed. The Department of Environmental Protection grant paid for a comprehensive assessment of the watershed and a restoration plan which outlined the best management practices and their costs. In addition to the assessment and restoration plan, Growing Greener funds supported the development of a streambank erosion and deposition protocol to be used by volunteers.
The assessment and restoration plan were completed in 2009. From the restoration plan, BVA selected a severely impaired reach of Radley Run for streambank and floodplain restoration and received an additional ESF grant to support the necessary work.
ESF funding has played a crucial role in transforming the Red Streams Blue program from a simple concept into successful restoration projects. The program is a scientific, systematic approach to stream restoration that can serve as a model for improving water quality in watersheds throughout Pennsylvania.