The Northeast River watershed is located in the extreme reaches of the Maryland portion of the upper Chesapeake Bay watershed. It is located in Cecil County and is bounded by the Principio Creek watershed to the west and by the Elk River to the east. Northeast River is tidal (fresh) as far north as the Town of North East where the head of tide intersects the fall line at the confluence of two major streams, the Northeast Creek and the Little Northeast Creek. The fall line intersects most of the central watershed, transversing both the Northeast Creek to the west, and Little Northeast Creek just to the east. The tidal segment of the Northeast River differs from a true estuary in that for the majority of the year there is little intrusion of salt from the lower Chesapeake; thus, there is neither longitudinal nor lateral distribution of salinity. This atypical tidal exchange produces unusual salinity distributions within the Northeast River. The watershed zone is predominately rural in nature, consisting mainly of animal operations (dairy cows and beef cattle farms) with fields dedicated to feed production. Farms are generally quite large in the region. Limited rural residential uses are present. The communities of North East and Charlestown where the Northeast River wastewater treatment plant is found are the major urban areas.
The Northeast River (basin number 02130608) was first identified on the 1996 303(d) list submitted to EPA by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) as being impaired by nutrients due to signs of eutrophication, expressed as high chlorophyll a levels, suspended sediments, lead, and zinc, with an additional listing of biological impacts added for the non-tidal portion in 2002. Eutrophication is the over-enrichment of aquatic systems by excessive inputs of nutrients (nitrogen and/or phosphorus). The nutrients act as a fertilizer leading to excessive aquatic plant growth, which eventually die and decompose, leading to bacterial consumption of dissolved oxygen (DO). For these reasons, this document proposes to establish TMDLs of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus in the Northeast River. A water quality analysis was completed in 2005 for zinc. The suspended sediment, lead, and biological impact impairments will be addressed at a future date.
Comment Response Document
Please direct questions or comments concerning this project to Maryland's TMDL Program at (410) 537-3818.
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230