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Adopted Amendments to SWQS (Category One Waters)

The Department adopted amendments to the Surface Water Quality Standards (N.J.A.C. 7:9B) in 2008 that include Category One upgrades as well as a revised definition of "Category One waters" and new definitions for the terms "exceptional ecological significance", "exceptional fisheries resource(s)", and "exceptional water supply significance". These terms are part of the Category One Waters definition, which was revised to better define the qualifications necessary for waters to be considered for upgrade to Category One designation, as well as the data necessary to evaluate these qualifications. The amended definitions will help the Department and the public identify waters that are truly exceptional and appropriate for upgrade to Category One designation. These rules became effective on June 16, 2008.

Based on these definitions, a number of waterbodies were upgraded to Category One status, including portions of Lamington River, Lubbers Run, Maurice River, Musconetcong River, Oldmans Creek, Pequest River, Pompeston Creek, Ramapo River, Salem River, Stony Brook, Toms River, and Wallkill River on the basis of exceptional ecological significance. Additionally, all natural tributaries of Swimming River Reservoir, Boonton Reservoir, and Wanaque Reservoir not already designated as Category one, as well as the Canistear Reservoir, Oak Ridge Reservoir, and Split Rock Reservoir were upgraded to Category one based upon exceptional water supply significance. Finally, a tributary of the Pequannock River was upgraded from FW2-TP to FW2-TP(C1) and a portion of Sidney Brook was upgraded from FW2-NT(C1) to FW2-TM(C1) due to their significance as exceptional fisheries resources. Portions of several waterbodies were reevaluated to address comments received questioning the habitat verification and sightings of endangered or threatened species. Based on this reevaluation, the Department adopted portions of the reaches that had been proposed for upgrade in the Wallkill River, Stony Brook, and Pequest River, and did not adopt the proposed upgrade of portions of Black Creek. Proposed upgrades for all the other waterbodies were adopted as proposed. A map of all the new Category One upgrades is available on the Department's Web site at Digital representation of stream classifications and antidegradation designations are also available on the Department's Web site at

Antidegradation/Category One Fact Sheet

Category One Buffers Fact Sheet

The new definitions are as follows:

"Category One waters" means those waters designated ... for protection from measurable changes in water quality based on exceptional ecological significance, exceptional recreational significance, exceptional water supply significance, or exceptional fisheries resource(s) to protect their aesthetic value (color, clarity, scenic setting) and ecological integrity (habitat, water quality, and biological functions).

"Exceptional ecological significance" means:

1. Waterbodies with suitable habitat verified by the Department to support Bog Turtle, Brook Floater, Dwarf Wedgemussel, Eastern Pondmussel, Eastern Lampmussel, Green Floater, and/or Triangle Floater and documented occurrence(s) of at least one of these species verified by the Department for inclusion in the Natural Heritage Program; or

2. A waterbody supporting an exceptional aquatic community as demonstrated by a nonimpaired benthic macroinvertebrate community as measured by the Department's Rapid Bioassessment Protocol and at least two of the following factors:

Optimal habitat as measured by the Department's Stream Habitat Assessment;

ii. Excellent fish community as measured by the Fish Index of Biotic Integrity;

iii. Water quality data that demonstrates compliance with aquatic life criteria pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.14(d) for dissolved oxygen, temperature, total phosphorus, and total suspended solids; or

iv. Impervious surface that is less than two percent of a small subwatershed (HUC 14 no greater than five square miles in size) and no more than ten percent of a large subwatershed (HUC 14 five square miles or larger in size).

"Exceptional fisheries resource(s)"
means waterbodies confirmed by the Department as supporting trout production and classified as FW2-TP or waterbodies approved by the Department for unrestricted shellfish harvest pursuant to Shellfish Growing Water Classification rules at N.J.A.C. 7:12.

"Exceptional water supply significance"
means a water supply system that serves a population greater than 100,000, including any reservoirs and their natural tributaries from source to the reservoir.

The most current SWQS rules (N.J.A.C. 7:9B) are available on the Department's Rules and Regulations Web site.

For more information, please contact the Bureau of Water Quality Standards and Assessment at (609) 777-1753.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: December 21, 2009

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