DEP AND BURLINGTON COUNTY SIGN WATERSHED CONTRACT
TO PROTECT RANCOCAS CREEK AREA
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
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.