Update on Tohickon proposed downgrade: August 29, 2019 – After overwhelming concerns from the community about the downgrade of Tohickon Creek, in a letter dated August 13, 2019 to local legislators, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) indicated a change of course regarding its proposal to downgrade legal protections for Tohickon Creek. In a clear response to a wealth of public comments outraged by the proposed downgrade, DEP said that it would agree to additional evaluations before any action is taken. See the press release from Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Tinicum Conservancy here.
Delaware Riverkeeper Network is meeting with DCNR to discuss needed improvements to the Lake Nockamixon dam discharge which is upstream of the proposed upgrade area. DRN is assisting with review of draft modeling reports with a goal of securing colder water discharges to the Tohickon and better consideration of meeting downstream uses of the Tohickon Creek that will improve benthic diversity and recreation for a loved stretch of the Tohickon that deserves EV protection.
For over two decades, the Delaware River community has been working and waiting to see the realization of Tinicum Conservancy’s stream upgrade petition, which was submitted to PA DEP in 1995. The Conservancy, the community, and allies including Delaware Riverkeeper Network, have been seeking Exceptional Value (EV) designation for the Tohickon Creek, a tributary flowing into the Lower Wild & Scenic Delaware River near Point Pleasant, PA in Bucks County. “EV” is the highest designation possible for streams in the Commonwealth. This designation does not prohibit development. The designation does trigger thresholds so that any private developer, any dischargers, including sewage treatment plants or commercial and industrial industries seeking to locate in the region, must meet standards and use practices that prevent degradation of the healthy waters and wetlands that belong to all Pennsylvanians. You can learn more about what special protection does and does not do here.
Since the original petition was submitted almost 25 years ago, many national, regional, and local conservation measures and plans have been written and adopted for this beautiful historic watershed. The Tohickon flows through iconic places like Ralph Stover State Park and the Appalachian Highlands. Over 3,000 acres of lands have been protected, through both public and private investment, by communities that take pride in preserving this well-loved and significant Bucks County stream and watershed. EV designation protection by PADEP is long overdue and would strengthen the spirit and goals behind the local protection plans of the community in place now and garner additional important Clean Water Act pollution controls at the state level to better protect the Tohickon Creek community’s water from harm. This state protection is especially essential in light of the threats we face with climate change leading to warming stream temperatures, increased flooding and drought extremes.