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United Way of Lancaster County


Water Week 2024 encourages ‘Rewilding for Clean Water’

The First Friday kickoff in Penn Square of 2023’s Lancaster Water Week. (Photo: Michelle Johnsen)

Friday marks the start of Water Week, the Lancaster Conservancy’s annual celebration of Lancaster County’s 1,400 miles of rivers and streams.

This year’s edition, the eighth since Water Week’s founding in 2017, runs from Friday through Saturday, June 15. With more than 60 events hosted by the conservancy and its many partners, It is the largest Water Week to date.

It’s “fantastically diverse,” the nonprofit’s spokeswoman Kelly Snavely said. “There’s something for everyone.”

(Photo: Michelle Johnsen)

This year’s theme is “Rewilding for Clean Water” — the idea of replacing lawns and other monocultures with a diverse range of native species.

Doing so has many benefits, from supporting populations of native insects, birds and other animals to reducing erosion and stream contamination.

“Rewilding is all about conserving, restoring, expanding, and connecting natural spaces to help protect our waterways, wildlife, and community,” the conservancy says. The organization encourages rewilding at any scale, from lawns at private homes to riparian buffers on farms and corporate campuses.

For more information

For a full slate of Water Week events, click here. Those marked with a sprout icon ( 🌱 ) incorporate information on rewilding opportunities. Note that registration is required in most cases, and some events are already sold out.

More than half of Lancaster County’s waterways are considered impaired — that is, contaminated by pollution. Numerous stream restoration projects are under way: The Lancaster Clean Water Partners’ Common Agenda calls for bringing the county’s streams back to full health by 2040.

(Photo: Michelle Johnsen)

A Water Week kickoff celebration will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday in Penn Square as part of Lancaster’s monthly First Friday. Experts from Lancaster city government, the conservancy and other environmental groups will be on hand to share information about conservation and clean water and hand out free native trees, shrubs and wildflower seeds.

Native plantings absorb and filter stormwater runoff while providing habitat for wildlife. Friday’s giveaway is one of several during Water Week made possible through the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership. Another will take place Sunday at Long’s Park as part of the park’s Summer Music Series.

Before the concert, city public works staff will offer a tour of the park’s wetland restoration project.

Capping Water Week next Saturday morning, June 15, is the annual Project Clean Communities cleanup. Teams are being organized at six sites: the Conoy Wetlands in Bainbridge, Swarr Run in Landisville and two locations each in Marietta and Lancaster.

“It’s a fun week,” Snavely said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”