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DRBC To Hold Two Informational Meetings On Proposed Rulemaking To Protect The Delaware River

For Immediate Release

October 13, 2004

(WEST TRENTON, N.J.)  --  The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) will hold meetings on October 14 in Stockton, N.J. and October 20 in Easton, Pa. to inform the public about proposed rulemaking intended to protect existing high water quality in a 76-mile stretch of the non-tidal Delaware River.

The October 14 meeting will take place in the Prallsville Mills Complex, 33 Risler Street (Route 29), in Stockton. The October 20 meeting in Easton will be held in Room 315 of the Acopian Engineering Building, High Street, on the campus of Lafayette College. Both public meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. and will include presentations by DRBC staff as well as a question and answer period.

"The DRBC has been engaged in a comprehensive water quality study in the Lower Delaware River from the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area downstream to the head of tide at Trenton to determine eligibility for inclusion in the commission's Special Protection Waters program," DRBC Executive Director Carol R. Collier said.

"Based on the water quality data collected, the DRBC has found that the Lower Delaware River is characterized by exceptionally high scenic, recreational, and ecological values and water supply uses that we believe require special protection. As a result, the DRBC is proposing to amend its Special Protection Waters regulations to include this 76-mile stretch of the non-tidal Lower Delaware River," Collier said.

The regulations, adopted by the DRBC in 1992, created a Special Protection Waters (SPW) classification designed to prevent degradation in streams and rivers considered to have exceptionally high scenic, recreational, ecological or water supply values. The regulations discourage, but do not ban, direct discharges of wastewater to the designated waterways, stipulating that "no new or expanded wastewater discharges or expansions of existing discharges shall be permitted in Special Protection Waters until all non-discharge/load reduction alternatives have been fully evaluated and rejected because of technical and/or financial infeasibility."

The 1992 SPW regulations focused on controlling point (or "end-of-pipe") sources of pollution to maintain existing high water quality. In 1994, the regulations were amended to add language dealing with the complex issue of non-point source pollutants that are found in runoff, especially after heavy rains.

At the present time, 121 miles of the Delaware River from Hancock, N.Y. downstream to the Delaware Water Gap has been classified by the DRBC as Special Protection Waters. If the proposed rulemaking is adopted, the entire 197-mile non-tidal Delaware River will be covered by the SPW anti-degradation regulations.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network petitioned the DRBC in April 2001 to classify the 76-mile stretch now under consideration as Special Protection Waters following the decision by the federal government in 2000 to add portions of the Lower Delaware River to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

A formal hearing to accept public testimony will be held on October 27 at approximately 2 p.m. as part of the DRBC's regularly scheduled business meeting to be held in the Kirby Auditorium of the National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street, Independence Mall, in Philadelphia. In the event all those who wish to testify cannot be heard on October 27, the hearing will be continued at a date, time and location to be announced by the commission chair that day. Written comments will be accepted through November 30, 2004. Following a review of all public comments, final action by the commissioners on the proposed rulemaking will likely take place in early 2005.

The DRBC was formed in 1961 by compact among the four basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the federal government. Its members include the four governors and a federal representative appointed by the president. The creation of the commission marked the first time in our nation's history that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development, and regulatory agency.

For more information about the proposed rulemaking, including the full text of the draft resolution and directions to the meeting locations, visit the DRBC’s web site at www.drbc.net.

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Clarke Rupert, (609) 883-9500 ext. 260

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