Final TMDLs Approved by EPA: Northeast River

The Northeast River watershed is located in Cecil County in the extreme reaches of the Maryland portion of the Upper Chesapeake Bay watershed with the northern most portion of the watershed extending through Pennsylvania. The tidal fresh portion of the watershed extends as far north as the Town of North East. The tidal range is 1.9 feet (0.58 meters (m)) based on the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tidal station in Charlestown, MD. The depths of the river range from about 6 inches (0.15 m) at the headwaters of the tidal embayment to greater than 13 feet (4.0 m) in the main channel and from 6 to 7 feet (1.8-2.1 m) at the mouth of the river.

The Maryland water quality regulations state that all surface waters of Maryland shall be protected for water contact recreation, fishing, and protection of aquatic life and wildlife. The specific designated use of the Northeast River Tidal Fresh segment (also referred to as the Northeast River embayment) is Use II – Support of Estuarine and Marine Aquatic Life and Shellfish Harvesting. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has identified the Northeast River Tidal Fresh segment (Integrated Report Assessment Unit Identification: MD-NORTF) on the State’s Integrated Report as impaired by the following pollutants (listing years in parentheses): lead (1996), nutrients (1996), sediments (1996 – later changed to total suspended solids (TSS) listing), zinc (1996), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish tissue (2002).

Nitrogen and phosphorus TMDLs for the Northeast River were approved by the US EPA in 2005, while water quality analysis (WQAs) for zinc and lead were approved by the US EPA in 2008 and 2009, respectively. In 2008 the TSS impairment was moved from Category 5 of the Integrated Report (i.e., water body is impaired, does not attain the water quality standard, and a TMDL is required) to Category 2 (water body is meeting some [in this case TSS] water quality standards but with insufficient data to determine if other water quality standards are being met). The document, available below, establishes a total PCB (tPCB) TMDL for the Northeast River Tidal Fresh segment. Data solicitation for PCB related information was conducted by MDE and all readily available data have been considered.  

Total Maximum Daily Loads of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Northeast River, Tidal Fresh Segment, Cecil County, Maryland

(Approved on March 22, 2011)

EPA's Decision Letter EPA's Decision Letter
(Does not include MDE's requested revisions)
MDE's Edits to EPA's Decision Letter MDE's Decision Letter Edits (35KB)
Main Report

TMDL_Northeast_River_PCBs.pdf (1106KB)

Comment Response Document

CRD_Northeast_River_PCBs.pdf (7KB)


Contact Information

Please direct questions or comments concerning this project to Maryland's TMDL Program at (410) 537-3818.