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Designated Uses of Water Bodies

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Why are designated use classifications important?

picture of ducks with lilliesDesignated use classifications are important because the designated use is considered to be the attainable goal for water quality within Cecil County. Read below to learn the goal for each stream.

As stated by MDE, designated uses define an intended human and aquatic life objective, use, or goal for a water body. An area's designated use refers to a water body's function such as fishing or swimming. It takes into account the attainable use of the water body for public water supply, the protection of fish, shellfish, and wildlife on a consumer level, as well for its recreational, agricultural, industrial and navigational purposes. Each major stream segment in Maryland is assigned a use. 

Designated Use Classifications

image of StreamThe State of Maryland has defined the following uses:

  • Use I: Water Contact Recreation and Protection of Aquatic Life
  • Use I-P: Water Contact Recreation, Protection of Aquatic Life, and Public Water Supply
  • Use II: - Shellfish Harvesting Waters
  • Use II-P: Tidal Fresh Water Estuary - includes applicable
  • Use II and Public Water Supply
  • Use III: Nontidal Cold Water - Natural Trout Water
  • Use III-P: Nontidal Cold Water and Public Water Supply
  • Use IV: Recreational Trout Waters
  • Use IV-P: Recreational Trout Waters and Public Water Supply  
sunset with coulpeWithin Cecil County, the State of Maryland has assessed Designated Use Classifications on a 6 Digit Sub-Basin level. The three 6 Digit Sub-Basins connected to Cecil County are the Lower Susquehanna River Area, the Elk River Area, and the Chesapeake Bay. Any stream segment not listed are considered Use I waters.
Boat Race pictureWithin the Lower Susquehanna River Sub-Basin, the Susquehanna River and all tributaries (except Octoraro Creek) are designated as Use I-P. Octoraro Creek is designated as Use IV-P. Also, Basin Run and all tributaries, Love Run and all tributaries,and Stone Run and all tributaries, which all ultimately drain to the Octoraro Creek, are designated as Use III-P.
wooded sunsetWithin the Elk River Sub-Basin, the Big Elk Creek and all tributaries, the North East Creek and all tributaries, and the Mill Creek and all tributaries, are designated as Use I-P. All estuarine portions of the Elk River Sub-Basin are classified as Use II except the Elk River, Bohemia River, Sassafras River, and the North East River, as well as all associated tributaries with these rivers. Principio Creek and all tributaries are classified as Use III. 
boat ramp pictureWithin the Chesapeake Bay (Proper) Sub-Basin, all waters are designated as Use II. For more information regarding designated use classifications in Maryland, please visit MD Stream Use Designations Appendix D.9, and Comar "Stream Segment Designations." 


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