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Sensitive Water Resource Open Space Criteria: A GIS-based Model for Acquisition Program

The New Jersey Water Supply Authority (Authority) uses GIS technology to identify potential properties for open space acquisition and ensure that sensitive water resource areas are properly protected.

The Authority developed a GIS model to identify, acquire, and manage critical watershed parcels to improve the protection of water resources. The GIS model incorporates about 20 different data layers based on the criteria selected by the Authority acquisition work group, which include riparian areas, core/dense forested areas, critical habitats/threatened & endangered species, highly erodible soils, primary ground water recharge areas, primary aquifer recharge areas, and so on. The model ranks each property relatively based on their sensitive water resources values (percentage in water resource areas) and the property size (acreage of each property); this helps to determine which properties provide the highest value for preservation.

The model can also help to encourage sustainable land development practices by clustering disturbances away from sensitive water resource areas, ensuring those areas would not be developed, damaged or destroyed. It can also assist open space acquisition entities to avoid open space isolation and create continuous green corridors. The GIS model also gives interested organizations the flexibility to customize their own criteria based on their conservation priorities. The whole process involves intensive GIS data manipulation and analysis using readily available GIS information, remote sensing, Digital Elevation Model (DEM), and aerial photography.

For more information on this GIS model or its applications, contact Jen Zhang, Watershed Protection Specialist, at (908) 730-0270 x229 or jzhang@raritanbasin.org.

Demonstration of the Development Process of the GIS Model

2002 Land Use Land Cover

Sensitive Water Resources Open Space GIS Model Flowchart

Open space acquisition

Sensitive Water Resource Areas on Crystal Springs

Check the GIS Map Gallery of the Watershed Protection Program Division


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