Villanova Student Research Team Monitoring and Protecting the Water Quality of Eastern Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Watershed


VILLANOVA, Pa. – A student research team from a Watershed Biogeochemistry class at Villanova University has formed an exceptional collegiate-community-corporate partnership that will protect the water quality of Eastern Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Watershed. Two other participants in the water conservation initiative are The Guardians of the Brandywine, a volunteer organization dedicated to protecting the Upper East Brandywine watershed, and the Downingtown, Pa.-based Victory Brewing Company, which utilizes this water during its craft beer brewing process.

Led by Steven Goldsmith, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences in the University’s Department of Geography and Environment housed in its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the 16 Villanova student researchers are focused on determining potential contamination sources in the East Brandywine and two other local watersheds. They will develop a weekend long sampling plan, conduct analyses, and present their results at a special April 25 presentation on campus.

“This invaluable experience provides students the opportunity to conduct a scientific study with real-world consequence, and further allows them to see how their actions are of immediate value to their greater community,” said Goldsmith. “By partnering with the Guardians of the Brandywine and Victory Brewing Company, students at Villanova University have observed the powerful impact citizen groups and private entities can have when they align their interests in conservation.”

Each year one Villanova student is chosen to receive a $1,000 scholarship funded by the Victory Brewing Company’s Headwaters Grant. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Headwaters Ale, one of the company’s most popular brands, is donated to the Guardians of the Brandywine, who, in turn, award a scholarship to a Villanova student who has proposed and will conduct a year-long research project in the watershed. 

“We believe that Victory, from an environmental standpoint, is a path paved with small steps moving towards larger, positive impacts. Our Headwaters brand gives craft beer fans the chance to actively engage in preserving and protecting our natural resources. The Headwaters scholarship is the intersection of responsible corporate engagement, dedicated community stewardship and committed academic pursuit, all contributing to tangible results that will positively impact our corner of the world,” explains Bill Covaleski, President and Brewmaster of Victory Brewing Company.

Villanova students have joined the Guardians of the Brandywine’s efforts to obtain a Designation of Exceptional Value from the state in order to give greater and lasting protection to the Brandywine waters.

"Exceptional Value is the highest designation awarded a water body in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and only three percent of the 83,000 streams in PA have earned this designation,” said Tish Molloy, president, Guardians of the Brandywine.  “The stream quality data gathered by the students in the Watershed class will be used to satisfy a major component in our application to upgrade the Upper East Branch, Brandywine Creek, bringing the benefits of Exceptional Value closer to a reality.”

The Brandywine Watershed covers 330 square miles beginning in northern Chester County, Pa. and ending in Wilmington, Delaware. The Watershed is home to 300,000 people and supplies water for the city of Wilmington, Coatesville, Downingtown, West Chester, and areas surrounding these cities and boroughs.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:  Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world.  With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.

Media Contact

Jennifer Schu

Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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