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Friday, January 7, 2011

DEP’s Newly Designated Critical Water-Planning Areas to Better Protect Resources Threatened by Water-Use Demands

Agency Designates Three Water-Planning Areas in the Ohio, Potomac River Basins

HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection today designated three critical water-planning areas, providing local residents and organizations the opportunity to take a proactive approach to deciding how to use and protect these valuable resources, Secretary John Hanger said.

The three newly designated planning areas include Laurel Hill Creek and Back Creek in the Ohio Basin, and the combined Marsh Creek and Rock Creek watersheds in the Potomac Basin.

“We’re placing this designation on these watersheds because the existing or future demand on them exceeds or threatens to exceed their supply,” Hanger said. “This action paves the way to develop locally driven plans that will protect the water resource, and also protect the public, aquatic life and the environment.”

DEP will work with local critical area advisory committees and the regional water resources committees to develop a voluntary critical-area resource plan for each watershed. Each plan is intended to address the key problems identified in the watershed and will suggest voluntary measures and actions that prioritize resources to ensure an adequate supply of water in the future.

The Statewide Water Resources Committee and the Potomac and Ohio regional water resources committees recommended designating these planning areas pursuant to Act 220 of 2002, the Water Resources Planning Act. The law established a Statewide Water Resources Committee and six regional committees that guided DEP in developing the first updated state water plan in 26 years, which DEP completed in 2009.

In addition, four watersheds—Little Lehigh Creek and Brodhead Creek in the Delaware Basin, and Sugar Creek and Spring Creek in the Upper/Middle Susquehanna Basin—have been identified as needing continued review and further evaluation over the next year. Based on the outcome of the evaluation, the statewide committee will determine whether to recommend designating these additional watersheds as critical water-planning areas.

For more information, visit www.pawaterplan.dep.state.pa.us.

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