The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)’s Division of Water Resources (DWR) will hold a public hearing April 27, 2023, on a proposed amendment to its 15A NCAC 02B .0305 rule, including a High Quality Waters (HQW) reclassification for four streams and an Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW) reclassification for seven streams in the Watauga River Basin.
The public is invited to comment on the proposals and the associated regulatory impact analysis at the hearing at 6 p.m. April 27, held at the Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute Watauga Campus.
Event: Public hearing on Proposed High Quality Waters and Outstanding Resource Waters reclassifications in the Watauga River Basin
When: 6 p.m., Thursday April 27, 2023; Speaker registration will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute Watauga Campus
460 Community College Drive, Building W460-Room 135, Boone NC 28607
The proposed rules and supporting documents can be found at the DEQ Public Notices & Hearings website. For more information on the High Quality Waters and Outstanding Resource Waters classifications, visit the DEQ Classifications website.
The DWR Biological Assessment Branch (Branch) has requested a reclassification of Craborchard Creek, Little Beaverdam Creek, Stone Mountain Branch and West Fork Rube Creek to include the HQW supplemental classification. The HQW supplemental classification is intended to protect surface waters with excellent water quality. The Branch also requested a reclassification of Dutch Creek, Green Ridge Branch, Harrison Branch, Laurel Creek, Shawneehaw Creek, South Fork Ellison Branch and Upper Laurel Fork to include the ORW supplemental classification. The Outstanding Resource Waters supplemental classification is intended to protect surface waters that have excellent water quality and are of exceptional state or national recreational or ecological significance. All the waters are presently classified as C, C Trout, or B Trout.
A 2020 DWR water quality study showed that all these waters have excellent water quality and seven of the waters meet the “exceptional recreational or ecological significance” ORW criteria (e.g., the water provides habitat for rare species like the Long-tailed salamander, a State Special Concern species, and the Significantly rare Blueridge Springfly; the water is a component of a state park (Grandfather Mountain State Park); and/or the water represents high level recreation or potential for such recreation such as the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Public Mountain Trout Waters designation).
The public also may comment on the proposed reclassifications and associated regulatory impact analysis in writing. Written comments will be accepted until May 1, 2023, and may be submitted in two ways:
Email Comments: Written comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mailed Comments: Written comments may be mailed to:
DEQ-DWR, 1611 Mail Service
Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1611
The proposed permanent rules and supporting documents are available online here.