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United Way of Lancaster County


City officials mark opening of Long’s Park wetlands installation

Mayor Danene Sorace, at center in inset, cuts a ribbon to open the Long’s Park wetland on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. The main photo shows the boardwalk extending over the installation. (Photos: Justin Stoltzfus)

Lancaster city Mayor Danene Sorace, Director of Public Works Stephen Campbell and others were on hand Friday morning for a ribbon-cutting at a newly installed wetlands project in Long’s Park.

The project, which includes a forebay, an iron-enhanced sand filter and marshes, is on the park’s northeast side near Pavilion 3 and the tunnel connecting Long’s Park and the Park City Mall. It is designed to treat 44,000 gallons of water per day on average.

(Photo: Justin Stoltzfus)

The infrastructure absorbs stormwater from a portion of Route 30 as well as runoff from the park itself, helping the city meet requirements for stormwater management to support the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It is projected to reduce overall sediment outflows by 95%, phosphorous outflows by half and nitrogen outflows by a third.

In essence, it’s a larger version of the green infrastructure installations that have been implemented throughout the city, Campbell said.

“It manages a significant aspect of the stormwater that has to be addressed – stormwater that goes into the Conestoga River,” he said. Moreover, he said, “it contributes to the beauty of the park.

The roughly $1.95 million project includes a boardwalk built over the wetlands, intended for recreation and educational use. It features an observation deck with benches where visitors can take a closer look at the wildlife and ecology of the site.

The wetland is already proving popular with the park’s web-footed population. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

“This was a project that we had been thinking about for a very long time,” Sorace said. “It’s a huge step forward for the city of Lancaster.”

Lancaster city water resource engineer Angie Brackbill took participants on a tour of the installation. She described it as a natural treatment system.

Floating wetland island forebays, she said, are part of the front-line approach, and the iron-enhanced basin provides a biochemical process for water treatment.

“These are the kinds of projects creating a healthy environment for us,” Campbell said. “Cleaner water in the Conestoga, and a cleaner Chesapeake Bay watershed.”