DEP Commissioner Proposes Safeguards for Trout Production Streams:
Greater Habitat Protection Sought for Federal Endangered Species
(02/132) TRENTON - Advancing Governor McGreevey' s priority to safeguard New Jersey's clean water supplies and critical habitat, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced plans to provide 12 water bodies increased levels of protection. Seven streams are proposed for Category One (C1) designation, which is the highest level of protection to greatly limit discharges into the waterways.
"Governor McGreevey is essentially raising the clean water bar in New Jersey," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Under the Governor's direction, the DEP is moving forward aggressively to set tougher standards to protect New Jersey' s waterways - particularly those that provide our families with drinking water and important habitat for threatened and endangered species and popular recreation fish like trout."
Based on existing water quality and DEP biological assessments of the streams, a new round of reclassifications is being proposed to protect stream habitat for ecologically significant fish populations, including wild trout, recreational stocked trout and the federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel.
As proposed, the seven C1 reclassifications will receive special regulatory protections against any discharge that produces a measurable change in the existing water quality. In October 2002, Governor McGreevey and Commissioner Campbell announced the reclassification of 15 water bodies to C1 protection status, focusing - for the first time - this regulatory protection on reservoirs that support drinking water supplies for more than four million state residents.
Six of the seven stream segments proposed for C1 reclassification are based on their trout production status, including: Bowers Brook (Hackettstown) and Tunnel Brook (Oxford Mountain) located in the Delaware River Basin; and the Macopin River (Newfoundland), Mill Brook tributary (North of Union Hill), Pequannock River (Charlotteburg), and Wallace Brook (Randolph) located in the Passaic, Hackensack, and New York Harbor Complex Basin.
The DEP has also proposed a seventh C1 reclassification of a stream segment of the Paulins Kill to protect the dwarf wedgemussel, a federal endangered species.
Freshwater mussels, including the dwarf wedgemussel, are sensitive to various toxins in the environment and may suffer lethal effects from pollutants discharged into waters. The dwarf wedgemussel species requires silt-free, stable streambeds and well-oxygenated, pollutant-free water to survive. In addition, its survival depends upon the presence of a viable fish population because the mussels must temporarily attach themselves to host fish during their larval stage.
The additional five water bodies are proposed for reclassification and upgrade to the Trout Maintenance level based on their ability to support a recreational trout population as a result of their high quality water. These include Lopatcong Creek (Phillipsburg) and Pequest River (Janes Chapel) in the Delaware River Basin; Peckman River (Verona) located in the Passaic, Hackensack, and New York Harbor Complex Basin; and Budd Lake (eastern tributary) and the South Branch Raritan River tributary (High Bridge) located in the Raritan River Basin.
The department applies more stringent criteria for dissolved oxygen, temperature, ammonia, and total suspended solids for all streams that receive upgraded protection based on their ability to support trout populations. These more stringent criteria apply to all dischargers located on the affected waterways who require DEP Surface Water Discharge permits.
The DEP is authorized to develop and implement Surface Water Quality Standards, which identify the quality of water needed to support various water uses in the state. The Water Quality Planning Act specifically addresses the need to maintain existing high quality waters that meet and exceed clean water standards - a goal accomplished through C1 designations.
Each reclassification and C1 designation occurs through an administrative rulemaking process, affording the public an opportunity to provide comment and input to these decisions. A copy of the rule proposal is available on the DEP's website at: www.state.nj.us/dep/wmm/bfbm/TroutProposal.pdf. A public hearing is scheduled for:
Wednesday, January 29, 2003, from 4 P.M. (to the earlier of the close of testimony or 5:30 and 6:30 P.M., or 9:00 P.M., at: Frelinghuysen Arboretum at the Haggerty Education Center
53 East Hanover Avenue
Morris Township, NJ 07962
Comments on the proposed C1 designations and reclassifications should be submitted by March 7, 2003 to:
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Gary Brower, Esq.
Attn. DEP Docket Number 35-02-12/351
Office of Legal Affairs
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402