NC DWR Special Waters

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I. Waters Classified by NC Division of Water Resources

All surface waters in North Carolina are assigned a primary classification by the NC Division of Water Resources (DWR). Supplemental classifications are sometimes added by DWQ to the primary classifications to provide additional protection to waters with special uses or values.

 High Quality Waters (HQW)
Supplemental NC DWQ classification intended to protect waters with quality higher than state water quality standards. In general, there are two means by which a water body may be classified as HQW. They may be HQW by definition, or they may qualify for HQW by supplemental designation and then be classified as HQW through the rule-making process.

1) The following are HQW by definition:

• (Water Supply) WS-I, WS-II,

• SA (shellfishing area),

• ORW (outstanding resource water),

• Waters designated as Primary Nursery Areas (PNA) or other functional nursery areas by the Marine Fisheries Commission, or

• Native and special native (wild) trout waters as designated by the Wildlife Resources Commission.

2) The following waters can qualify for supplemental HQW designation:

• Waters for which DWQ has received a petition for reclassification to either WS-I or WS-II, or

• Waters rated as Excellent by DWQ,
 Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW)
Supplemental NC DWQ classification intended to protect unique and special waters having excellent water quality and being of exceptional state or national ecological or recreational significance.

To qualify, waters must be rated Excellent by DWQ and have one of the following outstanding resource values:

• Outstanding fish habitat or fisheries,

• Unusually high level of water-based recreation,

• Some special designation such as NC or National Wild/Scenic/Natural/Recreational River, National Wildlife Refuge, etc.,

• Important component of state or national park or forest, or

• Special ecological or scientific significance (rare or endangered species habitat, research or educational areas).

• No new discharges or expansions of existing discharges shall be permitted.

There are associated development controls enforced by DWQ. ORW areas are HQW by definition.

NC DCM Special Waters

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Waters Classified by NC Division of Coastal Management

Coastal waters in North Carolina are managed by the NC Division of Coastal Management (DCM) under the authority of the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA).

 Areas of Environmental Concern (AEC)
The Division of Coastal Management is responsible for maintaining estuarine Areas of Environmental Concern (AECs) and establishing Specific Use Standards that specify the types of projects and construction methods that may be located/used in AECs. DCM manages construction activities through the issuance of CAMA development permits.

Western NC Special Waters

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Western NC Streams and Buffers

The Wilmington District has determined that projects in these areas require the applicant to submit a pre-construction notification (PCN) so  the District can review projects for potential effects to historic sites.  A PCN is required for activities located within 0.5 mile on either side of the listed waters, or within 0.75 mile of the Little Tennessee River, as measured from the top of the bank of the respective water (i.e., river, stream, or creek).

 Listed Western NC Waters and Corridors by Stream Name
Brasstown Creek
Burningtown Creek
Cane River
Caney Fork
Cartoogechaye Creek
Chattooga River
Cheoah River
Cowee Creek
Cullasaja River
Deep Creek
Ellijay Creek
French Broad River
Garden Creek
Hiwassee River
Hominy Creek
Iotla Creek
Little Tennessee River (within the river or within 0.75 mile on either side of this river)
Nantahala River
Nolichucky River
North Fork French Broad River
North Toe River
Nottley River
Oconaluftee River (portion not located on trust/EBCI land)
Peachtree Creek
Shooting Creek
Snowbird Creek
South Toe River
Stecoah Creek
Swannanoa River
Sweetwater Creek
Tuckasegee River (also spelled Tuckaseegee or Tuckaseigee)
Valley River
Watauga Creek
Watauga River
Wayah Creek
West Fork French Broad River
 Maps of Designated Western NC Stream Corridors and Buffers By County
 Geospatial Data (KMZ files) of Western NC Stream Buffers

Western NC Waters with Reporting due to EBCI Cultural Heritage Protection Buffers:

Designated Waters

The Wilmington District Corps of Engineers works with other state and federal agencies to ensure protection of the water resources of North Carolina.  To ensure consistency in the rules that protect water resources, the Corps may include additional, special permit conditions for waters that have state or federal protection designations.

Please review the required general and regional conditions and any applicable certifications or consistency requirements for the permit for which you are applying.