HDR Foundation Grant: Lower Merion Conservancy

HDR Foundation grant improving water quality, helping millions 

The HDR Foundation's latest large grant will help bring cleaner drinking water to nearly six percent of the United States population.

In its latest round of grants, the foundation has awarded the Lower Merion Conservancy a large grant, classified as more than $15,000, to purchase three probes that will help establish a long-term water quality monitoring system for Mill Creek in Pennsylvania. The effort will lead to cleaner drinking water for the Delaware River Watershed, which includes parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware—and impacts 17 million people in all.

The conservancy's role is to encourage residents of the Lower Merion Township and Narberth Borough, located in southeastern Pennsylvania, to preserve open space, the natural environment and the historic character of the community. Mill Creek runs through Lower Merion before joining the Schuylkill River on the eastern border of the township, which is just north of Philadelphia. The conservancy's projects identify where stream impairments originate along Mill Creek, and the improvements lead to better water quality for the entire watershed.

Brian Hoppy, national director of environmental sciences and planning out of the Plymouth Meeting office, serves on the board of the Lower Merion Conservancy and was the employee sponsor for the HDR Foundation grant. 

"The entire population living within the Delaware River Watershed will benefit from cleaner drinking water," he said. "Additionally, data collected from this project will allow municipal planners to make informed decisions on what kinds of remedial strategies should be placed, and where they should be placed along an impaired waterway." 

The three probes will measure relative water volume, temperature, conductivity and turbidity. The data will then be used to evaluate nutrient and sediment export in order to direct water-quality management within the watershed, plus better manage stormwater runoff. The data will also be posted online to engage additional stakeholders interested in becoming volunteer participants in the conservancy's monitoring efforts. 

The conservancy has existing relationships with schools located in the watershed, including Lower Merion High School, Friends Central School, and the Shipley School, all of which can assist as monitoring sites as part of their curriculum, Hoppy said.

"Lessons learned from this project could also be applied to other mixed-use tributaries of the broader Delaware River Basin," Hoppy said, "thus helping to reduce nutrient and sediment inputs into the Delaware Bay ecosystem."

Hoppy's role with the Lower Merion Conservancy extends beyond serving as a board member. He also participates on the conservancy's development committee, executive committee and stormwater task force, as well as working as a stream-watch volunteer for the citizen-scientist program. On top of that, Brian helps with outreach and planning for the conservancy's annual Stormwater Runoff 5K trail run and stormwater workshop.

Thanks to the efforts of these HDR employees, and the grant from the HDR Foundation, the Lower Merion Conservancy will be able to bring cleaner drinker water to the watershed, and better educate the community on the protection of water resources.

About the HDR Foundation

The HDR Foundation was founded in 2012 and has provided more than half a million dollars in grants to local organizations—fueled by donations from HDR employees. The foundation provides grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, federally recognized tribal governments, and to political subdivisions, such as school districts or libraries. Our giving is targeted to the communities in which our employees live and work, focusing on the U.S. or organizations that support global initiatives. Grant recipients are also required to align with HDR's areas of focus, which include education, healthcare and healthy communities, and healthy environments.