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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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RELEASE: 11/21/00
CONTACT: Loretta O'Donnell or Amy Collings
(609) 984-1795 or 292-2994


Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Shinn today signed a contract with Burlington County to develop a comprehensive management plan for clean and plentiful water for the Rancocas Creek watershed, which covers parts of Burlington, Camden and Ocean counties.

"We have long recognized the Rancocas Creek as a major environmental resource, so much so that the county freeholders are building a new parks system which largely focuses on open space lands along and near the creek," said Freeholder William S. Haines Jr. "That said, we appreciate the opportunity to take the lead in developing a management plan for the watershed which will protect it against pollution, and which will enable us to secure it as an important environmental and recreational asset for decades to come."

Burlington County will receive $550,000 for the four-year contract to complete the plan. The county's planning department will coordinate the process with the Rancocas Watershed Public Advisory Committee, DEP and other interested parties.

The plan will encompass the 360 square-mile watershed, which covers parts of 33 municipalities and includes the North and South Branch, the Rancocas main stem and Mill Creek. The Rancocas Creek watershed is the largest watershed in south central New Jersey.

Governor Whitman, who initiated the statewide watershed management program, said, "Water is one of our most fundamental and precious resources and must not be taken for granted. Watershed management planning will help to protect water quality in the Rancocas Creek area and throughout New Jersey for years to come."

The Area 19 Public Advisory Committee was organized in 1998 when the Rancocas Creek was designated as a priority watershed. The committee consists of approximately 150 members including community members, business leaders, local, county and state officials, environmentalists, farmers, educators, planners, engineers and concerned citizens.

Partnerships have been formed to begin improvement projects such as restorations along the banks of the Rancocas, Woolman Lake and Mill Dam/Ironworks Park.

"Working together, we will produce a plan that will protect the Rancocas Creek watershed's many valuable natural resources by identifying strategies to reduce various sources of non-point source pollution. Experience has shown that money for watershed planning is a wise investment in our future, because clean water is no accident," said Shinn.

The county will seek input from other local groups and interested citizens in developing the plan at the partnership's meetings. Task committees will conduct public outreach and other technical and support work. Upon completion of a draft plan, DEP will seek formal public comment and review prior to adoption.


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