Posted: July 11, 2017

AEC staff members were among the nearly 1,400 who participated in Lancaster Water Week activities June 3-10 to celebrate the county’s waters, educate about the challenges we face in achieving clean water, and activating people to take action.

AEC Watershed technicians, Jenna Mackley and Sarah Xenophon

AEC Watershed technicians, Jenna Mackley and Sarah Xenophon

The cleverly designed t-shirt available for purchase during Water Week in Lancaster County implored, "Whether you say crick or creek, come support Lancaster Water Week."

Nearly 1,400 showed up at venues all across the county the week of June 3-10 to do just that.

"Water Week was a resounding success," said Fritz Schroeder of the Lancaster County Conservancy, which hosted the event. "The overall feedback from sponsors, partners and participants has been exceedingly positive."

The idea for Lancaster Water Week was launched by Fritz and his friend and Spike Brant of Nimblist, a Lancaster-based production design company, while paddling the Conestoga River. Lancaster Water Week was a week long campaign highlighted with multiple activities celebrating the unique waterways of the county, educating the public about clean water challenges and opportunities, and activating people to take action in their watersheds and communities.

1,378 people attend 14 events over 8 days. Accomplishments include removal of 2 tons of trash from the Conestoga, planting 800 trees along Mill Creek, and distributing 375 native trees to local residents.

The AEC was actively involved in many Water Week events. Project coordinator Kristen Kyler, a member of the Lancaster County Clean Water Consortium steering committee, helped plan the Consortium's clean water golf tournament on June 5 at Conestoga Country Club along the Little Conestoga Creek. Kristen and AEC watershed technicians Jenna Mackley and Sarah Xenophon helped staff the event.

On Tuesday, June 6, AEC director Matt Royer was on hand for Water Week Film night at Tellus 360 in the City of Lancaster, sponsored by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. For the Next Watershed: Conewago Creek Story, an award-winning mini-documentary produced by WPSU about the Conewago Creek Initiative was one of the feature films. Matt was on hand to talk about the AEC's work in the Conewago and answer questions from the audience.

On Wednesday evening, June 7, AEC staff Kristen, Jenna, Sarah and Penn State Extension watershed educator Jennifer Fetter helped staff the AEC display at the Chiques Creek Watershed Expo at the Manheim Farm Show, which drew a record 485 participants.

Capping off the week, the AEC and its Greening the Lower Susquehanna volunteers, coordinated by Jennifer, Kristen, Jenna and Sarah, were on the banks of Mill Creek on Saturday, June 10 to help plant a forest riparian buffer. (See Lower Susquehanna Community Comes Together to Save a Stream Using Trees).

Fundraising also allowed the Conservancy to establish a mini-grant program, which will fund neighborhood engagement and technical assistance to establish residential green infrastructure in the City of Lancaster, as well as educational forums, stream monitoring, rain garden and native meadow implementation, and planting and maintenance of forest riparian buffers across the county.

While these on-the-ground accomplishments are impressive, at its core, the inaugural Water Week was a public awareness and marketing campaign. In that respect, it was highly successful. It led to creative methods of outreach, such as this Water Week animation short. Even county residents who did not participate in an event but heard about the week through viewing a short film or watching the Water Week laser light show in downtown Lancaster on First Friday were left asking, "What is Water Week?"

"We'll spend the next year further defining that very question," said Fritz. "We hope to build upon our first year successes and offer something even bigger next year."
The AEC looks forward to working with the Conservancy and other Lancaster County partners to grow Water Week next year and into the future.

For more information on this year's Lancaster Water Week, watch Lancaster Water Week - A Look Back.