existing resource protection measures

Background One of the purposes of this management plan is to demonstrate that White Clay Creek is suitable for designation into the National Wild and Scenic River's System. To demonstrate that the watershed is suitable for designation, it must be shown that the creek's outstanding qualities and resources can be protected through feasible strategies as described in the management plan. This section of the report highlights resource protection strategies currently practiced within the watershed and in its two-state region.

Rivers and streams are strongly affected by land uses in the watersheds that supply them. It is thus clear that, for creeks and rivers that run through land that is mostly in private ownership, individual stewardship and local land-use regulations offer the greatest opportunities for protection. This is particularly true for the White Clay Creek watershed, in which 90% of the land is in private hands.

The following summary of existing resource protection focuses primarily on the municipal level in Pennsylvania, and on the county level in Delaware, which governments are vested with the authority to regulate local land use. The summary also describes state and federal agencies and programs with provisions that affect White Clay Creek. The protection strategies described in this section are by no means the only ones available. The ones highlighted here are most likely to be directly applicable to the future management of the White Clay Creek watershed.

Local Planning and Zoning

Pennsylvania Chester County's municipalities have primary jurisdiction over land use and development activities under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC; Act 247). Municipalities include townships, boroughs and cities; each of these governments is empowered to engage in comprehensive planning and to enact zoning, subdivision and planned residential development ordinances. Twelve municipalities have land in the White Clay Creek watershed (the townships of East Marlborough, West Marlborough, Kennett, New Garden, London Grove, Franklin, London Britain, Londonderry, Penn and New London; and the boroughs of Avondale and West Grove). All of these municipalities have comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances and subdivision and land development ordinances in effect.

Pennsylvania counties are considered "municipalities under the MPC, with the ability to plan and, when municipalities do not do so, to zone. All counties must (MPC, Section 301.4) prepare comprehensive plans, which are strictly advisory in nature.

Local municipalities must (MPC, Section 304) submit many proposed actions to the Chester County Planning Commission for review. Counties use their comprehensive plans to guide review and comment on local zoning and subdivision ordinances, and on proposals for development.

Counties have primary responsibility for stormwater and solid-waste planning. Plans are required for these activities, and state permitting and funding is tied to the plans. The Stormwater Management Act of 1978 (Act 167) requires that counties develop plans on a watershed basis, consulting with municipalities in the watershed. The Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act of 1988 (Act 101) establishes a county-wide basis for planning for municipal waste collection, treatment and disposal.

The power to plan, zone and approve land development rests with a township's board of supervisors or a borough council. Planning commissions are generally appointed by boards of supervisors or borough councils, and are usually advisory. Zoning hearing boards decide on zoning variances and special exceptions. Historic commissions may be appointed by the supervisors or councils, and are strictly advisory.

The MPC empowers Pennsylvania municipalities, through master plans and ordinances, to achieve water-resource and environmental-protection goals. Among the issues which may be addressed through local plans and ordinances are:

  • water supply and water-supply protection
  • protection and preservation of natural resources and agricultural land and activities
  • preservation of natural, scenic and historic values and preservation of forests, wetlands, aquifers and floodplains
  • management of stormwater from developed areas and new land developments.

Because each municipality creates and enforces its own plans and ordinances, goals and strategies differ. Of special note are the Ground Water Protection District in the East Marlborough Township Zoning Ordinance, and the London Grove ordinance protecting Cockeysville Marble. These zoning overlay districts protect the aquifer contained in the Cockeysville Marble geologic formation underlying parts of the townships. Their provisions aim to safeguard the aquifer against depletion due to increased demand from new land development, against wastewater pollution that threatens its quality, against exorbitant surface cover that would diminish its recharge capability, and against increased danger of land subsidence and sinkholes. While the Cockeysville formation extends into other municipalities with land in the White Clay Creek watershed, the cited ordinances are the only ones known to have been specifically written to protect this aquifer. London Grove Township also has a comprehensive stormwater ordinance which encourages infiltration to maintain streamflow.

Delaware Land use planning and zoning are county responsibilities in New Castle County, which has had a comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances since the 1950s. The City of Newark has had zoning regulations in place since 1949. New Castle County's zoning powers are derived from the Delaware Code (Title 9, Chapter 26, Sections 2601-2611), which enables New Castle County to regulate land use and zoning in areas outside incorporated municipalities. The county also has a groundwater protection ordinance.

County planning authority is also derived from the Delaware Code (Title 9, Chapter 13, Sections 1341-1353). Under this law, the county executive appoints a seven-member planning board to review the comprehensive development plan prepared by the county department of land use. Approved by the board, this plan is reviewed and adopted by the county council.

New Castle County's subdivision and land-development powers are derived from The Delaware Code (Title 9, Chapter 30, Sections 3001-3012). The county has had subdivision and land-development regulations since 1967. The county planning department reviews and approves subdivision and land-development plans, then forwards them to the county council for final approval.

Zoning decisions are appealed to a five-member board of adjustment, appointed by the county executive. This board may grant special exemptions and variances, and may reverse or affirm a decision made during a prior hearing.

The Water Resources Agency for New Castle County provides regional water supply and water-quality management and planning for the county, including the White Clay Creek watershed. The agency is directed by a policy board comprising representatives of the City of Newark, the City of Wilmington, New Castle County and the State of Delaware. Water-resources planning activities are achieved through several programs including the Water Supply Plan for New Castle County and the Water Resource Protection Area (WRPA) Program.

The Watershed in Local Planning In the late 1960s, in order to address planning issues within the White Clay Creek watershed in Pennsylvania, the Avon-Grove Regional Planning Commission convened the White Clay Creek watershed communities of Avondale Borough, West Grove Borough, Franklin Township, London Britain Township, London Grove Township, New London Township and Penn Township. In 1969 the coalition issued a regional comprehensive plan. Other work of the Regional Planning Commission includes Regional Data Inventory (1987); Route 41 Corridor Planning Study: A strategy for transportation and land use (1988); Regional Community Facilities Plan (1990); and Regional Future Land Use Plan (1991).

County Protection Measures

New Castle County

  • Water Resource Protection Area Program (WRPA). The New Castle County Department of Land Use, with technical assistance from the Water Resources Agency for New Castle County, administers a WRPA Ordinance as an overlay district to the zoning code. WRPAs include the Cockeysville Formation, Surface Water, Wellhead, and Recharge areas. The purpose of the WRPA program is to protect the quality and quantity of ground and surface water for water-supply purposes. The ordinance provides minimum lot density and maximum percent impervious coverage for new residential, commercial and industrial development in the WRPAs. (See Appendix: WRPA Districts Land Use Regulation Table.) The City of Newark has water resource protection regulations very similar to those in New Castle County for its Wellhead Resource and Aquifer Resource Protection areas.
  • Drainage Code. The New Castle County Department of Public Works administers a drainage code designed to control the quantity and quality of stormwater from new developments. The code contains provisions for stormwater detention, buffer areas, soil erosion and sediment control. Administration of the code is financed through developer fees and the county operating budget. Copies of the drainage code can be obtained from the New Castle County Department of Public Works.
  • Riparian Buffer Area. New Castle County will consider a Riparian Buffer Area (RBA) ordinance in 1997. The ordinance will protect a corridor not less than 100 feet wide on each side of streams and around lakes within the county. The buffer area may be wider than 100 feet where necessary to protect such environmentally sensitive areas as floodplains, wetlands, steep and erosion-prone slopes and Critical Natural Areas.


  • Water Supply Plan. The water supply plan for New Castle County (Environmental Impact Statement) guides the search for additional supplies to meet existing and future water needs. The EIS is funded by the entities that form a five-member committee consisting of New Castle County, State of Delaware, Artesian Water Company, United Water Delaware and the City of Newark. The Water Resources Agency for New Castle County coordinates the committee. Results of the EIS analysis indicate that five alternatives are still under consideration. These are: Thompson Station Reservoir, Desalination, Philadelphia Pipeline, reuse of wastewater and the Chester Water Authority Pipeline. Two of these alternatives - the reservoir and the CWA pipeline - would be in the White Clay Creek watershed.
  • Delaware Stormwater and Sediment Regulations. DNREC, Division of Soil and Water Conservation has adopted stormwater and sediment regulations, last revised in 1993. The state has delegated to certain governments such as New Castle County and the City of Newark the authority to administer the state stormwater regulations. The purpose of these regulations is to reduce runoff and improve the quality of stormwater from new developments. The City of Newark administers stormwater management regulations and a drainage code within municipal boundaries.

Chester County

  • Water Supply Planning. The Chester County Water Resources Authority, and to a lesser extent the County Planning Commission, provide water-resources planning for Chester County. The County Planning Commission and County Water Resources Authority are both directed by nine-member volunteer boards, which are in turn appointed by the County Board of Commissioners. Water-resources planning activities are achieved through several programs, including the County Comprehensive Plan, a cooperative program with the U. S. Geological Survey and the Plan for the Brandywine as approved under P.L. 566. Under PA acts 247 and 537, the Planning Commission has mandated responsibilities for reviewing and commenting on land and sewage facilities plans proposed in the municipalities.
  • Regulation of Wells and Septic Systems. The Chester County Health Department has regulatory powers with respect to permitting wells and septic systems. The department also conducts an annual stream sampling program which probably includes White Clay Creek because of the mushroom agriculture in the area.
  • Acquisition of Parkland. The Chester County Parks and Recreation Department has several programs which provide incentives and funding to municipalities for the acquisition and protection of open space for use as parks and greenway segments.
  • Erosion and Sedimentation Regulation. The Chester County Conservation District (CCD) has both regulatory and outreach responsibilities related to the White Clay Creek watershed. Under state sedimentation and erosion regulations, CCD may act on applications. Through education and grant programs, CCD promotes conservation practices which include BMPs affecting stormwater management and mushroom agriculture.
  • Chester County's 1996 Comprehensive Policy Plan (Landscapes); Key Comprehensive Plan Goals, Objectives and Policies. Landscapes compares the current trend in Chester County - toward undifferentiated suburban sprawl - with a commonly held vision of development concentrated in centers supported by resource preservation, open space and reduced motor-vehicle congestion. The plan articulates goals, objectives and policies in the following areas: Land Use, Resources, Economic Development, Transportation, Community Facilities, Utilities, Housing, Human Services, Public Health and Planning and Coordination. Those goals, objectives and policies most likely to affect the White Clay Creek watershed are found in the areas of Land Use, Resources and Community Facilities and Utilities.

Municipal Participation in Comprehensive Plan Implementation In Pennsylvania, municipalities regulate their own zoning codes. Nevertheless, the county's comprehensive plan includes many strategies that can protect and enhance the White Clay Creek watershed. Municipal participation in comprehensive plan implementation is voluntary through the "Vision Partnership Program, which provides financial and other incentives for municipalities that execute memoranda of understanding and join the partnership.

Christina Basin Management Program The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) coordinates this bi-state program which includes the watersheds of White Clay Creek, Red Clay Creek, Brandywine Creek and the Christina River. The headwaters of all three creeks are located in Chester County, and the creeks eventually flow into the Christina River in New Castle County, Delaware. The program, a five-year effort to address both point and non-point sources of pollution, is intended to protect and improve the water quality of all the streams and rivers in the Christina Basin so the basin's waters can accommodate recreation as well as fish and other aquatic life. The project is funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and by the states of Pennsylvania and Delaware. Other participants in the program are the Water Resources Agency for New Castle County, the Chester County Conservation District, the Chester County Planning Commission, the federal EPA, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service and U.S. Geological Survey.

State Statutes and Programs

Pennsylvania Rivers Conservation Program

This program conserves and protects river resources through the development and implementation of locally initiated plans. It provides technical and financial assistance to municipalities and river-support groups so that they can carry out planning and implementation activities. A registry is established to recognize local river-conservation efforts. The program consists of five components: planning grants, technical assistance, river registry, implementation grants and acquisition and development grants. Local planning and support are prerequisites for any grant or recognition from this program, which is funded in part by the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund Act of 1993.

Planning grants are awarded for detailed studies to identify significant natural, recreational and cultural resources. Issues, concerns and threats to these resources are also investigated at this stage, and methods are recommended to conserve, enhance and restore river resources.

Technical assistance is provided to support communities and organizations undertaking studies and projects with their own resources. A clearinghouse for technical and resource information will be maintained and kept available to all engaged in river-conservation activities.

Implementation grants are awarded to carry out project activities recommended and included in an approved river conservation plan. Project proposals can be for single or multiple-year installation periods.

The rivers registry recognizes communities that have undertaken and completed river-conservation projects. The registry also supports local initiatives by recognizing them formally in a statewide program. To be placed on the registry, a river must have an approved plan and local municipal support.

Acquisition and development grants are awarded to carry out project activities recommended and included in an approved river-conservation plan.

Funding and eligibility: The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund Act of 1993 allows for river-conservation use of up to 10 percent of the Department of Environmental Resources share of the realty transfer tax. Grants range from $2,500 to $50,000. Planning and implementation grants require a 50 percent match of the costs of the approved project. The local share can be provided through direct payment or in-kind services (which can include professional and volunteer labor). Any municipality or appropriate organization with 501(c)(3) status is eligible for the grants.

Rivers designated by the Pennsylvania legislature for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Scenic Rivers System, or designated under the Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, with approved management plans, can be included on the Pennsylvania Rivers Conservation Registry.

Pennsylvania Scenic Rivers Program The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) administers the Pennsylvania Scenic Rivers Act (P.L. 1277, Act 283, 1972, as amended). The act authorizes a Scenic River System comprising river segments with outstanding aesthetic and recreational values, and provides for the protection and administration of the designated segments.

When a river segment is nominated for Scenic Rivers designation, the nominating entity submits a comprehensive study documenting important river-related resources; recommending resource management and environmental protection alternatives; evaluating environmental, economic and social impacts; and recommending any legislation necessary to implement the designation, which requires an act of the state legislature. Once designated, the river segment is classified as wild, scenic, pastoral, recreational or modified recreational.

The key benefit of Scenic River designation is the consistency achieved by the coordination of commonwealth agencies planning actions that affect the designated river. Designation also supports the enactment of municipal protective zoning ordinances.

Pennsylvania Ground Water Source Drinking Water Protection In October 1994 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER, now PADEP) published new wellhead protection regulations that went into effect October 9, 1995. These regulations require any new or expanding community water system to demonstrate that it owns or controls all the land in the Wellhead Protection Area Zone 1 before a permit can be issued. Zone 1 is the immediate area surrounding the well, which may range from 100 to 400 feet depending on the pumping rate of the well and the type of aquifer the well is tapping. This allows the water supplier to prohibit activities in this zone which could adversely impact the well. It is not known whether any water suppliers in the White Clay Creek watershed have had to comply with these regulations since they were adopted.

Pennsylvania Erosion and Sedimentation Control In Pennsylvania, two divisions of PADEP have jurisdiction over the quality and quantity of stormwater flows. The Division of Stormwater Management and Sediment Control works with counties and municipalities to prepare and implement watershed stormwater management plans under Act 167. There is no Act 167 stormwater management plan in place for the White Clay Creek watershed. The division is also responsible for statewide erosion and sediment-control regulations, and for issuing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for certain kinds of stormwater discharges. Many other aspects of the statewide permitting and inspection program for new land developments have been delegated to the Chester County Conservation District. The PADEP Division of Nonpoint Source Management is responsible for working with various regional, county and local agencies to improve the quality of stormwater runoff. Much of the funding for projects in this office is through federal grants under the Clean Water Act.

Delaware's Greenway Program Delaware's Greenway Program preserves and protects open-space links among parks, refuges, historic and natural sites and other open-space areas. Greenway funding is granted to municipalities and counties on a 50% matching basis by the Delaware Land & Water Conservation Trust Fund, and the greenway program is managed by the Department of Natural Resource & Environmental Control, Division of Parks & Recreation. The Delaware Greenway Program has initiated several greenway projects in the White Clay Creek valley, and will thus have an important role in the management strategy for the creek.

Northern Delaware Greenway The Northern Delaware Greenway includes the following components:

Mill Creek Greenway uses a system of public lands, suburban streets and private open space to link White Clay Creek State Park, Middle Run Natural Area, White Clay Creek Preserve and the Delcastle Recreation Area, with Middle Run - to - Delcastle its primary focus. The 800-acre Middle Run Natural Area, part of the New Castle County park system, is managed as a nature preserve accommodating passive recreation. The scenic Middle Run trail system will eventually link White Clay Creek State Park (to the west) with the Mill Creek Greenway (to the east). The White Clay Creek Middle Run Land Bridge has been envisioned since the 1980s as the connector between the White Clay Creek Preserve and the Middle Run Natural Area. The State of Delaware has acquired all of the parcels needed to complete the most extensive greenway system in New Castle County. When the project is complete, almost nine and a half miles of riparian habitat in White Clay Creek State Park, White Clay Creek Preserve and the Middle Run Natural Area will permanently be protected.

Delaware's Designated Watershed Program Delaware's Designated Watershed Program is administered under the Delaware Stormwater & Sediment regulations.

Delaware's Open Space Program Authorized by the 1990 passage of the Delaware Land Protection Act, the Open Space Program of DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation coordinates and administers the acquisition of parks, fish and wildlife areas, forest, nature preserves and cultural sites.

The Open Space Council designated White Clay Creek as one of 20 State Resource Areas, a list of lands containing natural and cultural resources significant to the state. The identification of resource areas provides the state with a blueprint for future land acquisitions that will provide permanent resource protection.

The funding for this program comes from land and water conservation bonds, a portion of the realty transfer tax and legislative appropriations. To date, the program has issued bonds totaling approximately $50 million. Program funds are used exclusively for land acquisition in State Resource Areas.

White Clay Creek Preserve and White Clay Creek State Park In 1984 the Dupont Company donated land in the White Clay Creek valley north of Newark, Delaware, for a natural preserve to be managed jointly by Delaware and Pennsylvania. The preserve holds important natural and cultural resources, including freshwater wetlands, mature forests, rare plant and animal habitats, geological formations and archaeological sites. The preserve is managed for natural resource preservation and passive recreation.

The 1,800 acres in White Clay Creek Preserve are managed by the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks and the Delaware Division of Parks & Recreation. With the neighboring 1,752-acre White Clay Creek State Park, the protected land along White Clay Creek totals some seven miles of riparian corridor.

The park and preserve section of White Clay Creek has been placed on the Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI), which lists rivers and river sections with potential for designation as National Wild and Scenic Rivers. The resources justifying the listing include rare and diverse biological habitats, and recreation opportunities within close proximity to urban areas.

Both park and preserve are managed for passive and low-intensity recreation and natural-resource conservation. White Clay Creek in the area of the preserve is stocked with fish several times a year and is considered one of the best trout streams in the area. Other activities in the park and preserve include hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.

The White Clay Creek Preserve Council was established along with the preserve in 1984 (Delaware HB 720 of the 132nd General Assembly, and House Resolution No. 250 of the 1984 Session of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania). The 12-member council advises the directors of the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation and the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks on recreation and conservation issues. Council membership balances representation among state and local governments in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and includes citizen interest groups.

Executive Order: Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Number 1989-2 In 1989 Governor Casey of Pennsylvania signed an executive order requiring that state agencies involved in land management act consistently with the goals, policies and objectives of the Upper Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River Management Plan. The order applies to all administrative departments, independent administrative boards and commissions, and stipulates that each agency notify the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Division of Conservation Partnerships of any activity that will affect Delaware River resources. The order remains in full force as long as the management plan is in effect. Similar executive orders from the governors of both Pennsylvania and Delaware should be sought for the White Clay if it is designated into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Federal Statutes and Programs

Delaware River Basin Commission In 1961 the federal government and the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, recognizing the river basin's regional and national significance, created the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). The commission adopts and promotes coordinated policies for water conservation, control, use and management in the basin. The commission's authority to plan and regulate water conservation and use gives it a central river-management role, particularly for water supply and quality issues.

DRBC maintains a comprehensive plan that guides development of the basin's water resources and serves as a management and regulatory mechanism. The plan codifies administrative decisions governing water-resource use, development and conservation. In 1991 DRBC included in its comprehensive plan two proposed water-supply projects within the White Clay Creek watershed, the reservoirs at Churchman's Marsh and Thompson Station.

he Water Code of the Basin (March 1994) establishes policies on water conservation and utilization, and water-quality standards. The policies require that new users demonstrate efficiency in water usage. They also establish water-use priorities in times of drought. The code requires that interstate waters maintain high water quality, although special ("no measurable change) standards apply to designated waters with high scenic, recreational, ecological and/or water-supply values.

The DRBC establishes minimum instream flows. The 7-consecutive-day, 10-year-return period low flow (7Q10), established to protect the aquatic environment, is the minimum flow that will ensure the survival of aquatic resources for a river or river section.

The DRBC's Water Resources Program (1995-1996) is an important river-management tool. It gives an overview of water resources and presents the commission's six-year water-resource program. The current planning programs are:

  • Continuing inventory and evaluation of water supply.
  • Analysis of recreation, fish, and wildlife demands.
  • Analysis of power potential.
  • Investigation of projects proposed by others.
  • Water quality management and pollution control.
  • Comprehensive plan and water resources program.
  • Flood loss reduction
  • Basin operations.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. USDA Forest Service: Watershed Protection Plan for Red and White Clay Creeks In 1996 the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Forest Service (FS), in cooperation with the Chester and New Castle county conservation districts and the Brandywine Conservancy, issued a draft watershed protection plan for the Red Clay Creek and White Clay Creek watersheds. Its primary focus is on watershed protection and water-quality improvement. This plan falls under the authority of the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (P.L. 83-566, amended 16-USC-1001-1008).

The watershed protection plan addresses many of the issues raised during this study of White Clay Creek. Problems identified by NRCS include degraded water-based recreation, toxin levels in edible fish, adverse impacts to aquatic life, impaired drinking water supplies, objectionable odors, damage to cropland and damage to transportation and water conveyance facilities.

Recommendations include accelerated land treatment and the acquisition of conservation easements. NRCS would support these recommendations by providing technical assistance and matching grants through a voluntary watershed protection program. NRCS will provide up to 65% of the costs for property owners who propose enduring land treatments and up to 50% of the costs for purchasing conservation easements. Grants will be available, on a competitive basis, to landowners in both the Red and White Clay Creek areas.

NRCS identified the following Red/White Clay creeks watershed land-treatment practices as eligible for support:


  • Waste Management Systems
  • Waste Storage Facilities
  • Nutrient Management Plans
  • Livestock Concentration Treatments
  • Milkhouse Waste Treatments
  • Runoff Controls


  • Cropland Erosion Control
  • Nutrient Management
  • Pest Management
  • Convert Cropland to Hayland
  • Convert Cropland to Trees


  • Riparian Forest Buffer or Filter Strips
  • Wetland Restoration
  • Livestock Exclusion from Streams
  • Streambank Stabilization/Restoration

Delaware Estuary Program In 1988, the governors of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey nominated the Delaware estuary to the National Estuary Program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. White Clay Creek is a tributary of the Delaware estuary. Inclusion in the National Estuary Program established the Delaware estuary as an important natural resource in an area of intense human activity, challenged by complex issues. In 1996 a management conference developed a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the estuary.

Five goals were established by the Delaware Estuary Program:

  • Provide for the restoration of living resources of the Delaware estuary and protect their habitats and ecological relationships for future generations;
  • Reduce and control point and non-point sources of pollution, particularly toxic pollution and nutrient enrichment, to attain the water-quality conditions necessary to support abundant and diverse living resources in the Delaware estuary;
  • Manage water allocations within the estuary to protect public water supplies and maintain ecological conditions in the estuary for living resources;
  • Manage the economic growth of the estuary in accordance with the goal of restoring and protecting the living resource of the estuary; and
  • Promote greater public understanding of the Delaware estuary and greater participation in decisions and programs affecting the estuary.

The Delaware Estuary Program is voluntary, and it relies on cooperation among constituents. The program itself will act as leader and facilitator, providing a watershed focus, defining sustainable development, and working with local communities to achieve regional perspective on issues. The Program will disseminate information and progress reports, and it will provide incentives for appropriate actions. Efforts to protect White Clay Creek should be coordinated with the Delaware Estuary Program.

The Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan is being implemented through periodic coordinating conferences. Two such conferences were held in 1997. The conferences are led by a steering committee which comprises the environmental secretaries of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; the regional administrators of EPA regions II and III (sharing one vote); and a representative of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Inc.

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Inc., raises money in the public and private sectors and provides funding and incentives for projects designed to protect and enhance the estuary. It also promotes, through public education and outreach, conservation of natural resources and increased understanding and appreciation of the Delaware estuary and its tributaries.

Army Corps of Engineers The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) regulates the discharge of dredge and fill material into U. S. waters (including wetlands) through the use of permits. Two classes of permits are issued: Nationwide and Individual. (Section 404, 33 U.S.C. ?1344; 40 C.F.R. Part 320 and 231; and 33 C.F.R. Parts 320, 323, and 330, Federal Clean Waters Act . Also Section 10, Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, 33 U.S.C. 401 et seq.).

Nationwide Permits are utilized when the Corps finds the impact of 40 categories of activities to be insignificant. Nationwide Permit categories include activities related to the construction of outfall and intake structures, discharges of materials for backfill or bedding for utility lines, streambank stabilization activities for erosion prevention, and discharges of dredged fill material into headwaters and isolated water causing loss of not more than three acres of waters, including wetlands.

When issuing Individual Permits, the Corps must follow EPA regulations that evaluate the environmental impacts of the discharge or fill. These regulations (404 [b][1] guidelines) require that the Corps consult the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the EPA, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the administrative agency for National Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permits (PASPGP) were issued by the Corps to avoid duplicating another permitting process at the state level. In issuing a PASPGP, the Corps certifies that the dominant permit meets the standards of Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act. The PASPGP places PADEP in the lead for processing approximately 80 percent of state and federal permit applications. In Pennsylvania, permits for the following activity types are still issued by ACE: activities impacting more than one acre of a body of water, including wetlands; activities impacting more than 250 linear feet of streams; activities involving dams, weirs, fill, stream channelization or relocation in the Juniata and Susquehanna Rivers; activities in French Creek, LeBoeuf Creek, Conneauttee Creek or Conneaut Outlet; activities impacting more than five acres of water or wetlands and activities in rivers under study for, or designated as, National Wild and Scenic Rivers. Under current regulations Nationwide Permits may be issued for activities within rivers under study for, or designated as, National Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Other Types of River and Watershed Protection

While local laws and regulations are the primary means of protecting rivers and watersheds, other mechanisms exist. Land acquisition, voluntary landowner action and physical barriers to land development may also work to protect watershed qualities.

Land acquisition and ownership for conservation ensures the long-term protection of rivers and their resources. Public parks, open space, conservation easements and even school yards offer permanent and predictable opportunities for river-resource conservation. Land ownership for conservation works because the owner is in charge, guaranteeing land use compatible with watershed preservation.

Landowners - corporations, businesses, farmers and residents - within a watershed can take voluntary action to protect their river or creek. Many private, nonprofit organizations and government agencies offer information on conservation and stewardship, and other kinds of support as well. When landowners willingly protect the rivers and streams in their own backyards, they become 24-hour-a-day guardians. That kind of full-time, primary protection is indispensable.

Many common landscape features such as wetlands, floodplains and steep slopes often make land adjacent to rivers difficult or impossible to develop, although burgeoning market pressure tends to overcome undesirable landscape features in the name of growth. However, municipal, county and state construction standards can severely limit construction on certain kinds of watershed land, including steep slopes, wetlands and floodplains.