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Reclassification of Lake Champlain and St. Lawrence River Drainage Basins

All surface waters in New York are classified according to their "best uses" (e.g., fishing, swimming, source of drinking water). The Division of Water will be upgrading the classifications of certain surface waters in 6NYCRR Parts 830 (Lake Champlain drainage basin) and 910 (St. Lawrence River drainage basin). These reclassifications are necessary in order to meet federal Clean Water Act (CWA) goals for water quality and will result in higher classifications (and thus more stringent water quality standards) for some waters in these two drainage basins.

Numerous Class D surface waters, which only provide protection for fish survival, will be upgraded to higher classifications (Class C or higher) which are protective of both fish survival and fish propagation and are fully consistent with the goals of the CWA including that all surface waters in the U.S. be "fishable" and "swimmable". Certain waters will also receive protection for trout or trout spawning. When a water is upgraded from Class D to C, an additional set of water quality standards applies to protect the water quality for fish propagation. These are more stringent than the standards for fish survival that apply to Class D waters.

DEC will be completing a draft proposal over the next several months. Following that, we will conduct an assessment of the regulatory impact of the proposed changes. Once that is completed, and the proposal has undergone full internal review, it will be released for public comment. A public hearing to accept comments will be held in each drainage basin, as will (contingent upon sufficient resources) one or more public information meetings. Notification of the formal public process will be made via both the New York State Register and the Environmental Notice Bulletin. The exact timing of this cannot be predicted, but the DEC currently anticipates this to be sometime in 2014.


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