January 26, 2004

Public input sought on St Croix watershed classification proposal

Open house sessions will be held next week to discuss a proposal for the water classification of the St Croix River watershed in New Brunswick. The proposal for the water classification of the St Croix River system was initiated by the St Croix International Waterway Commission and further developed in collaboration with participants throughout the watershed, as required by the province's water classification regulation.

"Water Classification establishes a plan for future water quality management by assigning A, B or C classes to watercourses or sections of watercourses," Environment and Local Government Minister Brenda Fowlie explained. "Each of these classes of water has associated water quality standards and management features designed to achieve class goals for water quality."

The goal of 'A' class is to protect waters in a natural state, and to carefully examine activities within the watershed to ensure that they do not result in degraded water quality. The goal for class 'B' allows for more influence from land and water uses. The water quality of class 'C' is acceptable, allowing even more direct and indirect influences on water quality, but maintaining a water quality supportive of a functioning aquatic community, including natural fish species.

The open house sessions, each running from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m., will take place on February 2 at the Lions Community Centre in McAdam and February 3 at the Milltown Royal Canadian Legion in St Stephen. Copies of the St Croix River watershed water classification proposal are available at various Environment and Local Government offices.

Written comments on the proposal will also be accepted no later than March 12, 2004; these should be forwarded to the attention of the Water Classification staff, Department of Environment and Local Government, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1, E-mail water.classification@gnb.ca. More information is available by calling 506/457-4846.

Fowlie also announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2004-2005 round of awards under the province's Environmental Trust Fund (ETF).

The fund, whose revenues are generated through New Brunswick's beverage container environmental fee, provides assistance to community groups, organizations, municipalities and business improvement areas for action-oriented projects with tangible, measurable results, aimed at protecting, preserving and enhancing the province's natural environment. Eligible projects fall under the categories of conservation, protection, education, beautification, restoration and sustainable development. For the 2003-2004 period, the ETF program provided assistance to 228 projects with a total value of over $5.1 million.

The Minister encouraged municipalities and business improvement areas to apply for funding, noting that "in the past, funding has been provided to green projects at the local level in the areas of energy conservation, wetland conservation, river clean-ups and the reduction and diversion of waste."

Application forms and information about the ETF may be obtained by calling 506/453-3703 or on-line at www.gnb.ca/0009/0373/0002. The deadline for project applications is February 16, 2004.

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