Volunteers flood 4 counties to clean up Darby Creek in annual trash removal

Molly Daly
April 12, 2019 - 5:26 pm
Darby Creek watershed cleanup

Courtesy of Darby Creek Valley Association


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Hundreds of volunteers are expected to take part Saturday morning in the 35th annual Darby Creek Valley Association's Darby Creek watershed cleanup, and there's still time to sign up.

DCVA Executive Director Susan Miller said the three-hour cleanup starts at 9 a.m., rain or shine. Volunteers will report to 52 sites in the Darby Creek-Cobbs Creek watershed.

"The reason why we have so many different sites is we are actually 126 linear miles in four different counties," she explained, "and we go from John Heinz Wildlife Refuge all the way out to Berwyn, Eastown Township in Chester County."


Miller hopes to surpass last year's haul of nearly six tons tons of trash, which ranges from single-use items like cups, paper, plastic bags and bottles, up to tires and even refrigerators. Debris from August's major flooding may increase the trash tonnage tally.

Meanwhile, things you'd expect to find are absent from much of the creek.

"Unfortunately, a lot of our area doesn't have fish because of all the pollution, and that's one of the things that we're working on," added Miller, "to try and get the stream to be fishable, swimable and drinkable."

The Darby Creek and its tributaries suffer from erosion and runoff, in part due to the lack of riparian buffers — the plants that shade and partially protect the stream.
"A lot of people that have stream bank properties, they mow directly up to the stream, and that affects the water temperature, which then affects the bugs," she said. "And if you don't have the bugs, you can't have the fish."

Darby Creek watershed cleanup
Courtesy of Darby Creek Valley Association

The nonprofit offers educational programs for homeowners on topics like stormwater control or how to have a stream-friendly backyard. There are also programs for kids. 

"We're working with the Sacred Heart School and making it a learning experience for the school while we repair the wetlands," she said. "We also do rain gardens, which help retain your stormwater."

To volunteer with the cleanup, visit dcva.org/watershed-cleanups.

Even if you can't make it, Miller emphasized that every day should be a cleanup. 

"If you're out and about and you see trash, clean it up."