Our Pocono Waters Campaign

The Poconos region attracts millions of people to its scenic and natural beauty, as well as to its many local businesses. We are proud of the mutually beneficial relationship that has been built between business and the environment, a relationship that provides for good jobs and wholesome family recreation. 
But many of our clean, fishable streams are now being threatened by powerful business interests who would rather pollute them than invest in updated technology and engineering practices that would protect our streams. As local business owners, hunters, anglers, hikers, conservationists, and community members, we demand that our clean streams, which support a healthy economy, remain a priority for our community. 
That's why PennFuture, along with nearly 40 other partner organizations, is involved in the Our Pocono Waters Campaign, which is unifying the community while educating citizens, business leaders, and local leaders about the importance of protecting “Exceptional Value” (EV) streams, highlighting the many ways that clean streams and economic development coexist in a region known for its natural beauty and booming tourism industry. While only two percent of PA streams are classified as "Exceptional Value," 80 percent of the state’s “EV” streams are in the Poconos, primarily located in Monroe, Pike, and Wayne counties.

This is why we need your support and action. Click here to visit the Our Pocono Waters coalition website, and be sure to sign our pledge to defend clean water in the region!

What is an “Exceptional Value” (EV) stream?

  • Pennsylvania protects each and every stream in the state based on its highest and best use regarding the stream’s water quality.
  • “Exceptional Value” or “EV” is the classification given to streams in Pennsylvania that have the cleanest and highest quality of water.
  • EV streams are unique and valuable resources, including outstanding trout fisheries that provide opportunities for recreation, aesthetic pleasure, and tourism.
What factors determine whether a stream is Exceptional Value?
  • First and foremost, the water’s chemical, biologic, and ecologic qualities must exceed certain criteria as outlined in the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s regulations, plus one or more of the following:
    • The water is located in a national wildlife refuge or a state game propagation and protection area.
    • The water is located in a designated state park natural area or state forest natural area, national natural landmark, federal or state wild river, federal wilderness area or national recreational area.
    • The water is an outstanding national, state, regional or local resource water.
    • The water is a surface water of “exceptional recreational significance” or “exceptional ecological significance.”
    • The water is designated as a ‘‘wilderness trout stream’’ by the PA Fish and Boat Commission following public notice and comment.
    • Based on studies conducted by PA DEP, the water “supports a high quality aquatic community.” 
Why is the Exceptional Value designation important?
  • Because exceptional value streams represent the highest quality and most valuable of streams to Pennsylvanians and the environment, the streams' protection receives the highest level of legal protection under state law.
  • After a stream is designated EV, its outstanding water quality must always be protected and no degradation of the waters is permitted under any circumstances.
How do Exceptional Value streams benefit the Poconos?
  • These streams not only provide local and regional benefits, but are also the headwaters to the Delaware River, the source of drinking water for millions of people throughout the region.
  • The EV streams in the upper and mid Delaware River supports approximately $22 billion in regional economic activity, which includes hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, tourism, and farming, according to Delaware Riverkeeper Network.  
Does the Exceptional Value designation of streams prohibit development?
  • Don’t be fooled: well-planned, environmentally sound development and EV streams can and do co-exist.
  • Classifying a stream as EV does NOT prohibit development, but rather it ensures that any development that occurs does not impair the highest quality waters in our state.

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