DEP Adopts C1 Rule- Leaves Out 150 miles of Streams from C1 Protection
The Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner adopted a rule, Surface Water Quality Standards, N.J.A.C.7:9B, that will designate 600 miles instead of the initial 749 miles of rivers and streams as Category One waterways, marking the first time in more than a decade that the state has designated waterways to this high level of protection.
“DEP took two steps forward and one step backward in adopting the C1 rules. It is the first time in 10 years since New Jersey has expanded C1 protections for critical waterways. However we are disappointed that DEP took out 150 miles of streams. Many of the streams that were pulled were tied to more pollution, more development, and special interest. If New Jersey really cares about clean water, then DEP need to add back the streams they pulled. DEP need to upgrade more streams that protect our endangered species, protect against water pollution, and against overdevelopment,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “When DEP announced the original list of 749miles, about half of those waterways were on public lands, and now when they pulled back 150 miles, most of those were on private lands and that is troubling. What was going to be a big day for a celebration turns out to be a good day for some streams and a bad thing for others.”
DEP’s new rule pulled 149 river miles that were proposed for C1 upgrades for reasons based on insufficient AMNET data, ratings dropped from Good to Poor or Good to Fair. These included Furnace Brook in Warren County, PaulinsKill and Pond Brook in Sussex County, Indian Run and Muddy Run in Salem and Cumberland County, Oldmans Creek and Still Run in Gloucester County, Whippany River in Morris County. The following rivers were dropped based on two supporting factors necessary for a waterbody to be determined to support an exceptional aquatic community: Weldon Brook in Morris and Sussex County, Little Robin Branch and Maurice River in Cumberland County, Beaver Run and Rutgers Creek in Sussex County, Pleasant Run in Hunterdon County, N.Br.Raritan River in Somerset County, Portion of Wallkill River in Sussex, and more.
“Many of the waterways that were pulled were critical streams in the Highlands or Skylands Area. What is even worse is these same streams were taken off C1 protections 10 years ago and have been taken off again. Many of these waterways still meet criteria for C1 protections such as Walkhill which is above a Wildlife Refuge, Whippany River is above a water supply intake, North Branch Raritan River is near a water supply intake and impacted by sewage discharge, and Paulinskill River is also impacted by sewage discharge. Streams were taken off in areas of South Jersey that would help protect rural and farm areas like the Maurice River, which is a Wild and Scenic river,” said Tittel. “Instead of using sound science, DEP used political science to take care of special interests instead of protecting our waterways. They instilled so many technicalities and criteria that undermine the basis of the rule. Many of the reasons why these streams were pulled off was because they did not meet the 10% impervious cover criteria even though they were at 11% impervious and met all the right criteria. It makes no sense. The impervious cover rule was put in the rules to weaken C1 standards and take care of developers and sewage authorities.”
The following waterbodies have been upgraded to C1: Blair Creek, Paulins Kill, Pequest Ricer, Cohansey River, Cooper River, Woodbury Creek, Ramapo River, Stone House Brook, Lamington River, South Branch Raritan River, Clove Brook, Wallkill River, West Branch Papakating Creek.
“DEP’s rule encompasses important waterways like the Ramapo River, Cohansey River, and Cooper River. It is important these waterways are protected under C1. Even urban areas have high quality streams like Cooper River in Camden County that need to be protected. This is a good start for DEP, however they need to do more,” said Tittel. “We still need to add more streams to the C1 list that are near our drinking water supply intakes and above reservoirs. All Highlands water must also be C1. Some of the critical streams like the Wallkill River that goes through the Wallkill Refuge and Swan Creek in Lambertville were taken off the C1 list that need to get back. DEP still have not upgraded streams for recreation value and scenic value. Which means Wild and Scenic Rivers for recreational purposes like Great Egg and Musconetcong should be C1. We are concerned that DEP may not move forward with aggressive action on expanding C1 protections, especially since they removed 149 miles already from their new rule.”
Any wastewater or other regulated discharges impacting these waterways will need to meet stringent water quality standards. These areas also will be afforded 300-foot development buffers under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act, better protecting water quality as well as lives and property.
“DEP’s rule encompasses streams all across the state, from Ramapo to Salem River and other important waterways like the Lamington River, Maurice River, Raritan River, and Cooper River. Designating C1 protections to these streams is even more urgent because only 1 stream in New Jersey, Flat Brook, meets fishable, swimmable, drinkable criteria. DEP’s rule becomes even more important to protect our streams, especially from climate change, flooding, and downstream flooding. It is important that DEP keep this momentum going and get rid of rollbacks from the Christie Administration that protect out streams and rivers. This includes strengthening rules for SWARPA, upgrade further protections, close loopholes, add temperature criteria, and water withdrawal regulations,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is a good step forward after 10 years, however New Jersey needs to move forward with the next round of C1 streams as soon as possible. We have waited too long for this.”
Link to C1 rule: shorturl.at/bFIS0