devising an approach
Legislative Direction The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (P.L. 90-542, as amended) provides the legal foundation and overall guidance for the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The following sections are particularly relevant to the development of this resource management and protection plan and its administrative framework. Section 1(b) summarizes the intent of the Act: It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Section 5 (a) (113) specifies the area to be studied for possible designation, which has been broadened to include the entire watershed of White Clay Creek: White Clay Creek, Delaware and Pennsylvania - The headwaters of the river in Pennsylvania to its confluence with the Christina River in Delaware, including the East, West, and Middle branches, Middle Run, Pike Creek, Mill Creek, and other main branches and tributaries as determined by the Secretary of the Interior.
Section 5 (b) (11) (A) directs the National Park Service to prepare a management plan for White Clay Creek as part of the study: In carrying out the study, the Secretary of the Interior shall prepare a map of the White Clay Creek watershed in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and shall develop a recommended management plan for the White Clay Creek. The plan shall provide recommendations as to the protection and management of the White Clay Creek, including the role the state and local governments, and affected landowners, should play in the management of the White Clay Creek if it is designated as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Section 10 (a) specifies how designated rivers should be managed: Each component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System shall be administered in such manner as to protect and enhance the values which caused it to be included in said system without, insofar as is consistent wherewith, limiting other uses that do not substantially interfere with public use and enjoyment of these values. In such administration primary emphasis shall be given to protecting its aesthetic scenic, historic, archaeologic, and scientific features. Management plans for any such component may establish varying degrees of intensity for its protection and development, based on the special attributes of the area.
Section 7 (a) describes the specific protection provided to designated rivers: The Federal Power Commission [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] shall not license the construction of any dam, water conduit, reservoir, powerhouse, transmission line, or other project works under the Federal Power Act . . . on or directly affecting any river which is designated . . . and no departments or agency of the United States shall assist by loan, grant, license, or otherwise in the construction of any water resources project that would have a direct and adverse effect on the values for which such river was established... No department or agency of the United States shall recommend authorization of any water resources project that would have a direct and adverse effect on the values for which such river was established.
Existing Land Development and Critical Areas
Among the first steps the Management Planning Committee took toward developing an approach to managing the White Clay Creek watershed were an analysis of existing land uses and development patterns, and an inventory of critical resource areas. (See resource maps and critical resource map.)
From the outset it was clear that the White Clay Creek watershed is a complex mosaic of land uses. The watershed represents a fairly typical cross section of the Mid-Atlantic seaboard region, showcasing dense highway commercial strips, industrial corridors and tiny agricultural crossroads villages. In and around the intense land uses flourishes a more hidden natural world where plants and animals thrive and tiny streamlets flow toward the creek.
To date, the municipal, county and state authorities within the watershed have managed fairly well to balance the region's growth with the protection of sensitive resources. But demographic trends show that population in the watershed and surrounding area continues to burgeon, and development pressure will inevitably increase. Many municipalities currently work with older ordinances, and few local and regional governments utilize all the conservation tools now available for watershed protection purposes. New Castle County is developing new environmental ordinances including a riparian buffer ordinance to improve water quality, reduce erosion in the watershed and promote the development of watershed management plans.
Drinking Water Protection
Drinking water is perhaps White Clay Creek's most important resource. Residents of New Castle County, Delaware, depend on White Clay Creek for much of their water supply; even so, the surface water flowing through the creek does not consistently meet the demand. During times of drought, especially, the drinking-water supply can shrink to critically low levels. The water supply drawn from the creek is currently supplemented by wells replenished by the watershed's groundwater supply.
As development continues in Chester and New Castle counties, demand for drinking water - much of it drawn from new wells fed by the watershed - will certainly grow.
The Management Planning Committee recognized that the management approach selected must give a very high priority to protecting the quality and quantity of drinking water within the watershed.