What is stormwater?
Stormwater Education Campaign
About the LeTort
What can you do?
Stormwater is rain that moves over impervious surfaces (such as roads, lawns, and sidewalks), collecting pollutants and debris in its path, eventually draining into a local waterway. These contaminants may include pesticides and herbicides, animal waste, litter, oil, soap, and antifreeze. Stormwater pollution is one of the leading causes of stream health degradation in Pennsylvania and in the nation.
Stormwater is a particular concern for Carlisle because the town has a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4), which means that stormwater runoff is not treated but rather, flows directly into our local streams, discharged at the Mully Grub and five other stormwater outfalls into the LeTort Spring Run. These pollutants have a negative impact on stream biota and aquatic habitats. Carlisle’s world-famous trout fishing stream, the Letort Spring Run, is especially vulnerable to stormwater pollution because of the high percentage of residential and trucking development in the watershed. Since residents contribute to stormwater pollution, public education is a vital tool in minimizing individual contributions.
In collaboration with the Borough of Carlisle, ALLARM launched five year Stormwater Education Campaign in 2007 to raise awareness about stormwater in the Carlisle community and to promote stream-friendly behaviors focused on water stewardship. To help kick-start this collaboration, the Borough and ALLARM received a $4,000 League of Women Voters’ Water Resource Education Network grant for the first year of the campaign and actively works with the LeTort Regional Authority and Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited. See Engaging the Community for more information about ALLARM's Stormwater Education Campaign projects.
The campaign has achieved a number of goals and products, including:
- Healthy Stream Habits - educational posters, movie theater advertisements, brochures, and displays that highlight what residents can do to minimize their stormwater contributions.
- LeTort video segments - a 26 minute documentary about the LeTort and 2-five minute pieces that highlight why residents should care about the LeTort and what they can do to protect it.
- Annual LeTort Festival - a celebratory community event focused on the Carlisle community and the LeTort Spring Run.
- Stormdrain marking events - mark 900 Carlisle stormdrains to inform watershed residents that what goes down stormdrains go into the LeTort.
The LeTort is a groundwater fed limestone stream that stretches nine miles through Carlisle, North Middleton, South Middleton, and Middlesex, where it connects with the Conodoguinet and eventually flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The LeTort Spring Run has great historical and biological significance to the greater Carlisle area. The stream received its title from the first Cumberland County settler, James LeTort, who acquired his land at the LeTort headwaters from William Penn. In 1751, Governor James Hamilton chose Carlisle as the county seat due to the LeTort Spring Run’s "high quality and its potential to support the community." Throughout the late 1700’s, the stream was exposed to pollution from tanneries and mills located nearby. In 1780, the first bridge to be constructed in Cumberland County, crossing the LeTort Spring Run. Additionally, in 1858 a stone quarry adjacent to the stream became operational. Located near the quarry is a watercress farm, which was responsible for a massive fish kill in 1981 due to a pesticide spill. Despite these external influences, the LeTort’s specific hydrogeology has proven to make the stream particularly resilient to pollution.
The limestone bedrock underlying the stream plays a role in its quality. Made of calcium carbonate, the limestone increases alkalinity enabling the LeTort to efficiently neutralize and buffer against the negative effects of acid rain. Additionally, the stream is groundwater-fed, maintaining a fairly constant, cool temperature that is ideal for multiple forms of aquatic life, including various species of trout, a diverse collection of macroinvertebrates, and submerged aquatic vegetation. The LeTort is internationally known for its spectacular trout fishing, having attracted the attention of famous fishermen such as Ed Shenk, Charlie Fox, and Vince Marino. The stream has consistently been an environmental treasure and attraction of the Carlisle area.
ALLARM’s stormwater education campaign is particularly important to the protection of the LeTort Spring Run. All of the storm drains in Carlisle empty into the LeTort untreated. Approximately 20% of Carlisle stormdrains discharge into a small tributary, the ‘Mully Grub ’, located near LeTort Park. Although this area provides some buffer before reaching the LeTort, the ALLARM stormwater campaign has focused on educating the community about the direct effects of stormwater on their local, environmental treasure.
In order to reduce your contribution to stormwater, just follow ALLARM’s Healthy Stream Habits! Reduce the amount of fertilizers and pesticides used for lawns and gardens, or use organic products instead. When walking your dog, make sure to pick up after them; the coliform bacteria is detrimental to the stream. Ensure that your car doesn’t have any oil leaks, and wash it either on your lawn or at a commercial carwash. Finally, pick up trash and avoid littering to keep debris out of the stream.
The Mully Grub stream runs through the Borough of
Carlisle, and is a tributary of the LeTort Spring Run, a renowned trout
stream. The source spring of the Mully Grub is buried under Carlisle.
As Carlisle developed over the centuries, the Mully Grub was redirected
through underground piping. Today, most of the Mully Grub flows beneath
the streets, a small section rises above ground near the confluence
with the LeTort Spring Run.
In 1998, after years of monitoring
and collecting stream data, Candie Wilderman and her students
demonstrated that the Mully Grub contributed to pollution to the
LeTort. As a result of these findings, the LeTort Regional Authority, a
community watershed organization, worked with ALLARM and other
Dickinson students to develop a restoration plan for reach. The project
is an excellent example of what can be accomplished through the
cooperation of a community and an academic institution.
Please see Mully Grub Report[pdf] for the case study and project report.