The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of Pennsylvania has designated three critical water-planning areas, allowing local residents and organizations to take a proactive approach in deciding how to use and protect these resources.

The three newly designated planning areas Laurel Hill Creek and Back Creek in the Ohio Basin, and the combined Marsh Creek and Rock Creek watersheds in the Potomac Basin.

DEP plans to work with local critical area advisory committees and the regional water resources committees to develop a voluntary critical-area resource plan for each watershed.

DEP expects that each plan is intended to address the key problems identified in the watershed and will suggest voluntary measures and actions that prioritize resources to ensure an adequate supply of water in the future.

DEP secretary John Hanger said that DEP is placing this designation on these watersheds because the existing or future demand on them exceeds or threatens to exceed their supply.

"This action paves the way to develop locally driven plans that will protect the water resource, and also protect the public, aquatic life and the environment," Hanger said.