TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey is adding 749 miles (1,205 kilometers) of rivers and streams to its inventory of waterways that have a high level of protection from pollution and development.
The state Department of Environmental Protection on Monday identified waterways flowing through 67 municipalities within the Upper Delaware, Lower Delaware, Northwest, Raritan and Atlantic Coastal regions as deserving added protection.
That means any wastewater or other planned discharges affecting these waterways will need to meet stringent water quality standards.
They include portions of the Pequest River in Warren County; the Salem River in Salem County; the Lamington River and the South Branch of the Raritan in Somerset and Hunterdon counties; and the Ramapo River in Bergen County.
They are called Category 1 waterways. DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe said such waterways "provide drinking water and sustain important fish and aquatic resources. In addition, the actions the state takes to preserve water quality for these waterways help protect ecosystems that provide important wildlife habitats and improve our quality of life."
They also will be protected by 300-foot (91-meter) development buffers.
About 6,800 miles (10,943 kilometers) of New Jersey's 23,500 miles of waterways enjoy this designation.
Including the highest level of protection, which is called Outstanding National Resource Waters, just under half of New Jersey's waterways now have a high degree of legal protection.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, called the move "an important step forward in our battle in New Jersey for clean water."
"We have been waiting 10 years to get new streams designated as (Category 1) and now it is finally happening," he said.
The waterways listed Monday in the New Jersey Register include 734 miles (1,181 kilometers) chosen for their exceptional ecological value, and another 53 miles for their exceptional fishery resources. Thirty-eight miles (Sixty-one kilometers) overlap both categories.
Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC