On Saturday, June 11, Tinicum Township hosted a free rain barrel workshop at Tinicum Community Park.

Eleanor Breslin, Tinicum Township’s new supervisor, coordinated the event with assistance from the recently reestablished Environmental Advisory Council (EAC). As supervisor, Breslin brought back the EAC and expressed a desire to increase community participation in conservation efforts. She viewed the workshop as a chance for residents to participate in conservation by saving stormwater and preventing it from picking up pollutants that contaminate local aquifers.

“We can all play a role in helping to address stormwater management.

This workshop is a way for individuals and families to see the big impact of a small step,” said Breslin. “One of the biggest takeaways [from the event] for me as the supervisor of the township is the reinforcement of the fact that residents of Tinicum Township care deeply about the environment.”

Tinicum resident Carolann Kell backed up this sentiment, “I’m 
a big environmentalist and I want to work in Tinicum now that I live here.”

Through the Lower Delaware Wild and Scenic River Mini-Grant program, which provides funding to community projects that protect local watersheds, Tinicum received $2,000 to hold the event. The township also received donations from Coca-Cola and Wehrungs Lumber and Home Center, who provided the barrels and other materials used in the workshop.

Both sessions of the event were full with 16 people on the waitlist, despite initial doubts from Breslin about the popularity of the event.

Rain barrels are plastic barrels that sit below downspouts and collect rainwater that flows from roofs. This prevents the water from picking up pesticides and other residues as it flows into aquifers and conserves it for future use on lawns and gardens.

“Water is everywhere and we want to make sure that the water flowing over the land is good water, flowing nicely and protecting the wildlife living in the land,” said Joan Stelchman, who, along with Cindy Rafferty, was a Penn State Extension Master Watershed Steward at the event. Rafferty explained the value of conserving water, “We’re stopping the flow of stormwater and you can use it during drought periods to water the lawn or flowerbeds. I joke with my husband about how much water we’re saving because the sewer bill is connected to the water bill.”

The workshop began as participants gathered under the pavilion at Tinicum Community Park, which overlooks an unmowed species habitat, and listened to speeches from Breslin and other members of the EAC explaining the importance of using rain barrels and conservation generally. They were followed by Tim Hayes, the Upper Bucks County field coordinator for Penn Future, who spoke about his organization’s work advocating for environmental legislation at the state level and encouraged the participants to sign a petition supporting House Bills 1901 and 2020 in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, which would collectively allocate $750 million of leftover American Rescue Plan funds to conservation efforts.

The participants were then guided through the process of making their rain barrels by the Master Watershed Stewards. The participants shared a sense of community, with many taking time to help each other with constructing the rain barrels while engaging in conversation.

For Tinicum resident Leslie Carson, the event provided an opportunity to protect the environment enjoyably. “It’s really important to conserve our water resources, especially in this area. It’s precious and we need to save it and not waste it,” said Carson. “Community interaction and to see our friends here was the most fun [part of the event].”

The rain barrel workshop is not the only means through which Tinicum Township has promoted conservation.

Breslin cited the township’s efforts with the Tinicum Conservancy to conserve 5,000 acres of land and the ongoing work of the Bridgetown - Nockamixon - Tinicum Groundwater Committee to evaluate the condition of local groundwater. She added, “We have very highly educated people [in Tinicum] whose life work is to preserve the environment and monitor the effects of climate change.