Originally Published Jul 26, 2012
By ROCHELLE A. SHENK
Correspondent, Lancaster Newspapers
Motorists driving along Oregon Road near Landis Homes and residents at the retirement community will be noticing some changes late next week as a project to restore the floodplain of Kurtz Run gets underway.
Perhaps the most visible part of the project aimed to improve water quality will be the removal of a farm pond in the meadow near the bridge.
Residents and motorists often see a pair of swans, Canada geese and ducks paddling on the pond. “Residents have been concerned about the swans, but we do have a plan for them,” said Linford Good, vice president of planning and marketing. “We have two other ponds on the campus that are stormwater basins, and the swans will be relocated to one of them.” Good said Landis Homes is also relocating fish to the other two ponds. He said the area of the farm pond will be added to usable wetlands.
The pond is not a naturally occurring pond and it lies within the floodplain, Good said. “It was originally built as fire protection for the farm. The pond will be removed because it lies within the floodplain and uses up capacity of the floodplain during a storm event,” he said.
Another part of the project involves removing the remnants of a low-head dam located in a meadow near the retirement community. The dam had been used to create power to pump water when Landis Homes was a farm; it was breeched several years ago. Kelly Gutshall, president of LandStudies, the Lititz-based engineering firm hired by Landis Homes, said about four feet of “legacy sediment” containing phosphorous and nitrogen has collected behind the dam. Nitrogen and phosphorous are nutrients, but when they enter the waterway in high concentrations they become pollutants and eventually flow to the Chesapeake Bay. “By removing the legacy sediments, we remove the pollutants that are trapped in it,” she said. Gutshall said the purpose of floodplain restoration projects is to control stormwater, improve water quality and increase wildlife habitat. LandStudies estimates that the 27,500 cubic yards of sediment — about 40,000 tons of soil or 1,800 large dump truck loads — will be removed with this project. Gutshall said the nutrient-rich topsoil will be used in other areas at Landis Homes.
A number of the trees growing in the floodplain will be removed as part of the project, however there will be 51 new native species trees, 675 shrubs and 25,600 herbaceous plugs (grasses, rushes, sedges) planted in the area. Good said roots of the plants will help stabilize the stream bank and filter water flowing into the stream. Currently the floodplain sits high above where water flows during normal times, and during times of flooding, water cuts deeper stream banks that become unstable.
Good said Kurtz Run is a spring-fed stream that has its head waters in the farm across Oregon Road from the east entrance to the Manheim Township retirement community’s campus and flows through the 114-acre campus.
“We are a faith-based organization, and we focus on being good stewards of our natural resources, which we view as God’s creation,” Good said. “This project is part of our campus master planning process and will help restore the stream’s natural flood plain, reduce erosion and will also help provide and alternate approach to our stormwater.”
During the master planning process, Good said, Landis Homes met with residents and constituents to discuss things that should happen on the campus. Good said, “One of the things we found is that people felt strongly about keeping part of our campus undeveloped, especially the woods that are located on the southeastern part of the campus.”
The floodplain restoration project will be spread out over a five-acre area. Work on the project is anticipated to begin Aug. 1, and it is expected to be completed in six to eight weeks. Permits for the project were granted at the end of June by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Manheim Township.