The History and Distribution of Ponds in the Brandywine Watershed


       This document describes the changing role of ponds in the Brandywine watershed, which occupies a total of 330 mi2, most of it in Chester County, PA but also extending into Delaware County, PA and Northern Delaware. The Brandywine has long been a source of historical interest, a high priority for environmental conservation (e.g., by the Brandywine Valley Association, Brandywine Conservancy and Delaware Water Resource Agency) and a
Pond History
subject of scientific inquiry (e.g., Pizzuto and Meckelnburg 1989, Davis 2002, Kauffman et al. 2006). The ecology and aggregate impact of ponds within the Brandywine watershed is more fully understood when one also considers the rapid proliferation of constructed ponds during human occupation of the region. For example, nutrient transformation and sediment retention by ponds (see companion document on Pond Ecology) are a important, if relatively unstudied, components of nutrient and sediment transport within stream systems, and the aggregate impact of pond proliferation is greatly magnified when trends in abundance are taken into account.
        The information provided here draws on seminal work at Franklin and Marshall College describing the abundance and ecological impact of mill ponds built during the colonial era (Walter and Merritts 2008). Much of the emphasis relies on research at West Chester University concerning more recent trends in pond abundance and distribution during the last century. The research at West Chester University and preparation of this document were made possible through Growing Greener Grant #SE 080021 administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The views expressed herein are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Environmental Protection.

G. Winfield Fairchild1, Gary W. Coutu2, and Christopher Robinson3
1 Department of Biology, West Chester University, West Chester, PA
2 Department of Geography, West Chester University, West Chester, PA
3 GIS/Internet Consultant, Avondale, PA