Groups Petition To Redesignate the Delaware River as an Exceptional Value

January 2012Articles In the Zone

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, American Rivers, Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited and more than 20 local, state and national organizations are submitting a stream upgrade petition to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to urge the Commonwealth to redesignate to “Exceptional Value” status the Upper and Middle Delaware River and all tributary streams flowing into the river in these reaches on the Pennsylvania side.

This designation is reserved for the cleanest streams of the Commonwealth, and only about four percent, or 3,076 miles of Pennsylvania’s 86,000 miles of streams, have received this designation, according to 2009 data. Many of the streams of the proposed upgrade area have already received a “High Quality” designation. The petitioners are submitting a 70-plus page petition that highlights water quality data from agency and nonagency sources and other qualifiers that they say make this watershed deserving of an upgrade to Exceptional Value - the highest designation available to Pennsylvania streams. With this designation should come stronger protections to ensure this region’s water quality does not degrade in health over time.

The Upper and Middle Delaware segments extend from the New York border down to Water Gap, PA. The Lower Delaware, which is not the subject of the petition, flows from Water Gap, PA to Trenton, NJ, and, the balance of the river to Philadelphia is considered tidal.

According to the petitioners, the current designation given to the Upper and Middle Delaware and its tributaries do not reflect the unique and important attributes of this river region as a whole. They are requesting the PADEP expedite the petition due to proposed drilling in Marcellus Shale deposits anticipated for the region, which is underlain by the Marcellus Shale.

For more information, please contact Robert W. Gundlach, Jr.