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  • Todd Giddings, Ph.D., P.G.

Critical Water Planning Area Designation

The Pennsylvania State Water Plan defined a Critical Water Planning Area (CWPA) as: “Any significant hydrologic unit where existing or future demands exceed or threaten to exceed the safe yield of available water resources.” The term "hydrologic unit" is a synonym for the term "watershed".

The process to designate a watershed a Critical Water Planning Area (CWPA) had five steps.

Stage 1 Nomination: The Spring Creek Watershed was nominated due to its designation by the SRBC as a Potentially Stressed Area.

Stage 2 Initial screening and prioritization: The Upper-Middle Susquehanna Regional Committee supported the nomination.

Stage 3 Data verification, development and review: The Water Analysis Screening Tool (WAST) was used to verify the nomination. In 2003, DEP entered into an agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey, Pennsylvania Water Science Center in New Cumberland, Pa. to develop a way to manage and analyze the extensive water resource information that is required to assess current and future statewide water use and availability. The result was a Geographic Information System (GIS) based model, the WAST.

The WAST is a sophisticated planning tool that compares net water withdrawals (withdrawals minus discharges/returns) against designated criteria (percent of the low flow [7Q10]) to measure the influence of the net withdrawals on aquatic resources. The graphical output features of the model are used in conjunction with local information and with knowledge provided by DEP’s technical partners (DRBC, SRBC, ICPRB and USGS) and the regional water planning committees, to screen for potential CWPA watersheds. The watersheds identified will then undergo more rigorous analyses to determine whether existing or future water use demand is expected to exceed or threaten to exceed the availability of water resources.

Stage 4 Review and recommendations by Regional Committees: The Upper-Middle Susquehanna Regional Committee reviewed all of the nominated watersheds in the Upper-Middle Susquehanna Region, and made the Spring Creek / Nittany Creek watershed the top nominee to be designated as a CWPA.

Stage 5 Review and designation by Statewide Committee and DEP secretary: Only two watersheds were designated CWPA’s, and the Spring Creek / Nittany Creek watershed was not one of them.

To learn more about this CWPA designation process, you may read this CWPA Process excerpt from the Pennsylvania State Water Plan Principles pdf document.

Todd can be contacted at .

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