DEP Upgraded Important Streams to C1

DEP Upgraded Important Streams to C1

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner announced it will designate 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.

“This is an important step forward in our battle in New Jersey for clean water. We have been waiting 10 years to get new stream designated as c1 now it is finally happening. The DEP will designate 749 miles of waterways as C1 streams for ecological value and fishery resources. C1 is a key tool to protect water quality under the Clean Water Act. It means these streams get anti degradation which mean no measurable in their water quality,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is the first real positive rule from the DEP under the Murphy Administration. This is a critical rule in our efforts to protect the environment and our precious waterways.”

These waters flow through 67 municipalities within the Upper Delaware, Lower Delaware, Northwest, Raritan and Atlantic Coastal regions. Among the waterways to be classified are segments of the Pequest River in Warren County, the Salem River in Salem County, the South Branch of the Raritan River in Somerset and Hunterdon counties, the Lamington River in Hunterdon and Somerset counties, and the Ramapo River in Bergen County.

“DEP’s rule encompasses streams all across the state, from Ramapo to Salem River and other important waterways like the Lamington River, Maurice River, and Cooper River. In a state like New Jersey this is vital because only 5% of our streams and rivers meet criteria for fishing and swimming. C1 stream means you cannot degrade its water quality. It protects critical habitat, stream buffers and keeps out pollution discharge of sewage and other sources. C1 also requires higher standards for stormwater. C1 designation for 750 miles will help protect 1,000s of miles of open space because it will expand the stream buffers,” said Tittel.

The DEP filed the proposed classification changes in the New Jersey Register as amendments to its Surface Water Quality Standards Rule. Upon adoption, these will be the first additions of Category 1, or C-1, waterways since 2008, when the state designated 686 miles of rivers and streams to this high level of protection.

“We need to do more to protect our streams near our drinking water supply intakes and above reservoirs. All Highlands water must also be C1. Then in 2008, some 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. It is important to protect endangered species but it is even more important to protect drinking water for over 1 million people of New Jersey,” said Tittel. “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.”

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.

“Designating C1 protect to these streams is even more urgent because only 1 stream in New Jersey, Flat Brook, meets fishable, swimmable, drinkable criteria. DEP’s new rule is a good step forward. They need to keep this momentum 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.  “Sierra Club 20 years ago worked to change C1 streams. At one time it was for protecting cold water and fisheries for trout. We need to make sure that the DEP moves forward on protecting not just these streams but water and recreational streams.”

 

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IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2019

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Caryn Shinske    (609) 292-2994

DEP PROPOSES RECLASSIFYING 749 MILES OF WATERWAYS TO CATEGORY ONE STATUS, FIRST SIGNIFICANT UPGRADE IN MORE THAN A DECADE

(19/P13) TRENTON – Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe today announced the filing of rule amendments that will designate 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.

“Category One waterways provide drinking water and sustain important fish and aquatic resources,” Commissioner McCabe said. “In addition, the actions the state takes to preserve water quality for these waterways help protect ecosystems that provide important wildlife habitats and improve our quality of life.”

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.

The DEP filed the proposed classification changes in the New Jersey Register as amendments to its Surface Water Quality Standards Rule. Upon adoption, these will be the first additions of Category 1, or C-1, waterways since 2008, when the state designated 686 miles of rivers and streams to this high level of protection.

Specifically, the DEP proposes to upgrade 734 waterway miles for their exceptional ecological value and another 53 miles for their exceptional fishery resources. Thirty-eight miles overlap both categories.

These waters flow through 67 municipalities within the Upper Delaware, Lower Delaware, Northwest, Raritan and Atlantic Coastal regions. Among the waterways to be classified are portions of the Pequest River in Warren County, the Salem River in Salem County, the South Branch of the Raritan River in Somerset and Hunterdon counties, the Lamington River in Hunterdon and Somerset counties, and the Ramapo River in Bergen County.

The state uses a three-tiered system to designate waterways, with the top tier being those designated as Outstanding Natural Resource Waters that are to be set aside in their natural state for posterity. Many of these are in the Pinelands National Reserve.

Some 6,800 miles of waterways are currently designated as Category 1 and are protected for their exceptional ecological, water supply, recreation, and/or fisheries values. All other waterways are designated Category 2. Those Category 2 waterways not meeting water quality criteria must be improved to meet these criteria.

The classification system began in 1985, when the state began using Category 1 designations for waterways within parks and state wildlife management areas as well as trout production rivers. In 2003, the state broadened the scope of the designation to include waterways providing both exceptional ecological and exceptional water-supply significance.

The DEP’s proposed upgrades for exceptional ecological value are based on stringent scientific criteria, including verifications by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife of suitable habitat for threatened and endangered species such as bog turtles and mussels, species that depend on high water quality. Similarly, the DEP based its reclassifications for exceptional fishery resources on trout sampling data over the course of multiple seasons.

Over the years, the DEP has partnered on countless projects and initiatives to improve water quality, including projects to reduce stormwater runoff and educate the public about its effects, The DEP also works to restore eroded shorelines, remove obsolete dams to improve water flow and migratory fish passage, remove litter, monitor water quality, implement environmentally sound planning practices and address effluent from wastewater treatment plants and other dischargers.

Publication of the classification upgrades in the New Jersey Register starts a 60-day public comment process. The DEP will hold a public hearing on April 8 at 1 p.m. at the New Jersey Forensic Science Technology Center Auditorium, 1200 Negron Drive, Hamilton 08691. Directions to the New Jersey Forensic Science Technology Center Auditorium are available at www.nj.gov/dep/enforcement/pcp/bpo/directions/directions-Hamilton.pdf.

For a copy of the public notice and rule proposal, visit https://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/notices.html

Written comments may be submitted electronically by May 3 at www.nj.gov/dep/rules/comments or by mail to:

Gary J. Brower, Esq.
ATTN: DEP Docket No. 01-19-01
NJ Department of Environmental Protection Office of Legal Affairs
Mail Code 401-04L
PO Box 402
401 East State Street
7th Floor
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

For more information on the DEP’s waterway-protection classification system, visit  www.nj.gov/dep/wms/bears/docs/swqsfactsheet2-antideg.pdf

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