To Conserve and Protect
The Brandywine is more than a
scenic and historic waterway. It’s a major source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. Someone has to make sure it
by Josephine Eccel Published March 12, 2010 at 09:33 AM
(page 1 of 3)
henever Sherri Evans-Stanton opens the spigot in her Wilmington home, she thinks about work. That might make some people hydrophobic, but her job as director of the Brandywine Conservancy’s Environmental Management Center is all about making drinking water, well, safe to drink.
The Brandywine Creek is the main source of public water in northern New Castle County and nearby Chester County, Pennsylvania. The Brandywine Conservancy, founded in 1967, is a non-profit watchdog of the waterway, protecting the land it nurtures and drains. The conservancy also oversees the Brandywine River Museum, with its collection of American art, including works by three generations of the Wyeth family.
Evans-Stanton, a Texas native, has headed the Environmental Management Center in Chadds Ford for the past six years. Before that, she served as Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s biodiversity coordinator, acting as a liaison between organizations, helping to set environmental priorities for the governor’s Livable Delaware initiative.
“One of the things I really enjoy is working on complex problems or projects, where you have to bring in people who represent all different sides and try to forge a compromise that meets the goals of the project, but also can get support from the larger group,” she says.
The Brandywine is fed by a 560-mile network of tiny streams and tributaries that drain an area of 325 square miles. Only a hair more than 7 percent of that territory is in Delaware. The creek picks up pollutants from farms, industries and thousands of households en route to its confluence with the Christina River in Wilmington.
The EMC promotes simple measures like planting trees and leaving a buffer of vegetation along stream banks, but it also offers comprehensive planning assistance for communities, working with landowners to put aside open space through deed restrictions, called easements. Since the conservancy’s founding, more than 43,000 acres have been saved from development. These are not small accomplishments. The watershed sprawls across four counties in two states, comprising close to 20 townships and municipalities and thousands of privately owned parcels of land, each governed by a jigsaw puzzle of laws, ordinances, mandates and competing self-interests.
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