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Do You Know Crum Creek?

  • The Crum Creek is approximately 24 miles long.
  • It was originally called Ockanickon  by the Lenni Lenape who lived in the woods along the creek.
  • Early 18th Century Swede settlers named it Crumkill, or Crooked Creek. The word “Crum” is Dutch for “Crooked.”
  • The Crum Creek watershed is 38 square miles of land encompassing the creek and its sources. The water from small streams and wetlands in this area drain into the creek through a network of tributaries starting from its headwaters at Malvern. The creek carries all of this water down to Eddystone where it flows into the Delaware River.
  • The 38 square mile drainage area of Crum Creek encompasses 15 municipalities and has a population of approximately 68,000 residents.
  • Part of the upper Crum Creek is designated by the Department of Environmental Protection DEP as Special Protection stream, with a larger Cold Water Fishery and native trout population than nearby Ridley and Chester Creeks.
  • The DEP also has listed about 19 miles of the lower Crum Creek and its tributaries as “impaired” due to pollution. They are protected as Warm Water Fishery streams to support bass and perch fish populations.
  • The Crum is the largest drinking water source for Delaware County residents.
  • Crum Creek was dammed in 1931 near Pennsylvania Route 252 to create Springton Lake (also known as Geist Reservoir) to ensure an adequate drinking water supply to the Lower Crum Reservoir near Media.
  • The approximately 391-acre Springton Water Reservoir is maintained by Aqua America and it helps regulate consistent supply water to the Lower Crum Reservoir serving over 200,000 households.
  • The Aqua Pennsylvania drinking water treatment plant on the Lower Crum Reservoir withdraws 19 million gallons per day to provide drinking water for households and businesses.
  • The Crum Creek supports diverse aquatic life: water plants, 12 species of amphibians such as salamanders and frogs, plus turtles in pools and floodplains, and fish.
  • Certain areas of the Crum watershed have habitat areas of large, mature woodlands and forested stream corridors that support impressive numbers of native plants and wildlife. Unfortunately these areas are being invaded by rampant invasive plant species that threaten to eliminate the healthy habitat.
  • On its way to the Delaware River the Crum Creek passes through the campus of Swarthmore College. This 200 acre site, one of the last remaining forested areas in Delaware County, is called Crum Woods. Due to the devoted stewardship of staff and members of the Scott Arboretum located on the campus, there are 3.5 miles of well-maintained trails. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the remarkable biodiversity and beauty of this special area.
  • During the Great Depression, The Scott Horticultural Foundation, precursor of the Scott Arboretum, replanted the Crum Woods with 60,000 native trees and shrubs.
  • Among its many, many functions, the Crum Creek is a source of water during drought periods, a discharge area for effluent from wastewater treatment plants, a natural floodway for stormwater runoff from major weather events, and a recreational scenic and educational resource enjoyed by residents throughout its watershed.
  • Three distinct sections of the Crum Creek have been identified based on the land uses and  stream quality conditions that exist in the regions that it flows through.

UPPER WATERSHED – Rural/Suburban: The highest quality of water is found at the headwaters of the creek north of West Chester Pike. The water is cooler water because it is shaded by wooded areas. These High Quality waters are protected to restrict pollution and support diverse aquatic life.

MIDDLE WATERSHED – Suburban: Reduced water quality in the Crum is found in the stretch between West Chester Pike and Baltimore Pike around Newtown Square, Marple and Swarthmore where the creek flows into the Springton Reservoir in Media. Environmental degradation from development of extensive shopping centers and numerous subdivisions continue to compromise the waters as they flow through this section.

LOWER WATERSHED – Urban: Water quality is worst in this stretch of the creek South of the Baltimore Pike through industrial and densely developed areas to the Delaware River. Covering nearly 19 miles, the creek and its tributaries flowing through this region are listed by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as “impaired” due to runoff from roads and parking lots, sewage treatment plants, brownfields and dams.