The Delaware Riverkeeper is working on a petition to give to the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to upgrade the mainstem of Delaware River and Pa. tributaries that flow into the upper and middle parts of the river, from a current designated use status of high quality or lower designation to exceptional value status.


The Delaware Riverkeeper is working on a petition to give to the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to upgrade the mainstem of Delaware River and Pa. tributaries that flow into the upper and middle parts of the river, from a current designated use status of high quality or lower designation to exceptional value status.
Susan Beecher, Executive Director of the Pike County Conservation District (PCCD) discussed issue at their meeting Nov. 14.
“I have asked for a copy of the petition when it is completed to see what data they are providing in support of the petition,” says Beecher. “It is a critical proposal and I want to see what it looks like before we lend support. DEP has not designated the Delaware River as either high or exceptional value. This presents some issues in terms of water resources protection from projects that might drain to the Delaware River.”
She explained that most watersheds are rated either high quality or exceptional value that provide projects. Watersheds have a higher level of review when it comes to land development projects or sewage discharges, water withdrawals, etc.
“The Delaware River is considered a no mans land and DEP has classified it as warm water fishery,” says Beecher. “It does not have high quality or exceptional value designation even though the water quality is at least at the high quality level. The Delaware River Basin Commission and the National Park Service have been doing quality monitoring and their data supports a higher level of protection, but DEP hasn’t taken action to provide the state level of protection. I would love to see the Delaware River designation at least at high quality, but I’m not sure if the whole mainstem and tributaries have water quality criteria that bump it up to exceptional value.”
Beecher explained that she was just giving PCCD a heads up that the petition is in works. The Delaware Riverkeeper is looking for support, but she doesn’t think PCCD should lend support until they see what the petition is. Beecher says that there is some level of protection from some support from the Delaware River Basin Commission, designating sections of the river as outstanding basin resources or segments that support outstanding basin resources.  
“I see it falling short on projects that have commercial development proposed along the river corridor, where normally individuals are required to have an NPDS permit for construction activities. Because it is not discharging either high quality or exceptional value resources by Pa. standards, there is not a level of review involved,” says Beecher.