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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 14-1034



[ 25 PA. CODE CH. 901 ]

Amendments to the Water Quality Regulations, Water Code and Comprehensive Plan to Update Water Quality Criteria for pH


[44 Pa.B. 2850]
[Saturday, May 17, 2014]

 By Resolution No. 2013-9 on December 4, 2013, the Delaware River Basin Commission (''DRBC'' or ''Commission'') approved amendments to the Commission's Water Quality Regulations, Water Code and Comprehensive Plan to update the Commission's stream quality objectives for pH in interstate tidal and non-tidal reaches of the main stem Delaware River.

Effective Date:

 Thirty (30) days from publication of the corresponding notice of final rulemaking in the Federal Register.

Supplementary Information:

 The Delaware River Basin Commission is a federal-state regional agency charged with managing the water resources of the Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries. Its members are the governors of the four basin states—Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania—and the North Atlantic Division Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, representing the federal government.

 Notice of the proposed amendments appeared in the Pennsylvania Bulletin (43 Pa.B. 5995) on October 12, 2013 as well as the Federal Register (78 FR 58985) on September 25, 2013, the Delaware Register of Regulations (17 DE Reg. 365) on October 1, 2013, the New Jersey Register (45 N.J.R. 2201) on October 7, 2013, and the New York State Register (page 13) on October 9, 2013. Notice of the proposed changes also was published on the Commission's web site on September 20, 2013. A public hearing was held on October 24, 2013 and written comments were accepted through November 21, 2013. No written or oral comments were received.

 The Commission's current criteria for pH in interstate streams were adopted in 1967. Today, these criteria are inconsistent with scientists' increased understanding of natural fluctuations in freshwater and saltwater pH levels and with modern applications of pH criteria. The amendments approved by the Commission on December 4, 2013 will minimize regulatory inconsistencies and better address natural pH cycles in the main stem Delaware River. First, they will increase from 6.0 to 6.5 the lower threshold of the range of acceptable pH conditions in non-tidal zones of the main stem—DRBC Water Quality Zones 1A through 1E. Second, they will add a clause to the pH criteria for all interstate tidal and non-tidal water quality zones, recognizing natural deviations outside the 6.5 to 8.5 pH range. In accordance with these changes, the pH criteria for Water Quality Zones 1A through IE (the non-tidal main stem) and 2 through 6 (the tidal main stem and tidal portions of tributaries) will read, ''Between 6.5 and 8.5 inclusive, unless outside this range due to natural conditions.''

Rule Text:

 The affected sections of the Commission's Water Code and Water Quality Regulations consist of subsection C.3 of each of sections 3.20.2 through 3.20.6, respectively, for Water Quality Zones 1A through 1E (non-tidal main stem); and sections 3.30.2 through 3.30.6, respectively, for Water Quality Zones 2 through 6 (tidal main stem and tidal portions of tributaries). In each of these sections, the text shall be amended to read, ''Between 6.5 and 8.5 inclusive, unless outside this range due to natural conditions.''

 (The affected sections relating to Water Quality Zones 1A through 1E were incorrectly identified in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as sections 2.20.2 through 2.20.6. Sections 2.20.2 through 2.20.6 of the Water Code are part of an unrelated article; no sections numbered 2.20.2 through 2.20.6 exist in the Water Quality Regulations.)

Related Materials:

 The complete text of Resolution No. 2013-9, the Water Code, the Administrative Manual Part III—Water Quality Regulations, a basis and background document setting forth the technical basis for the amendments, and additional documents concerning pH criteria for interstate non-tidal and tidal reaches of the main stem Delaware River are available on the Commission's website, Copies also may be obtained from the Commission's Secretary and Assistant General Counsel at 609-883-9500, ext. 203 or ext. 224. A charge for printing and mailing may apply.

Dated: April 8, 2014


Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 68-57 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulation.

Annex A




§ 901.2. Comprehensive Plan and water quality.

 The Comprehensive Plan regulations as set forth in 18 CFR Part 401, Subpart A (2014) and the Water Code and Water Quality Standards as set forth in 18 CFR Part 410 (2014) are hereby incorporated by reference and made a part of this title.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 14-1034. Filed for public inspection May 16, 2014, 9:00 a.m.]

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