WMA 1: Upper Delaware

[The following information has been adapted from resources developed by the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection Division of Watershed Management.]

Watershed Management Area (WMA) 1 encompasses portions of Sussex, Morris, and Hunterdon Counties, as well as all of Warren County. The Upper Delaware River Watershed is 746 sq. miles in total area, and spans the mountainous northwestern corner of New Jersey. This region is located within the Valley and Ridge and Highlands physiographic provinces, and the tributaries in this watershed are among the most pristine waterways in the Delaware River Basin.WMA 1 Highlight

Six smaller watersheds make up WMA 1. They are: Delaware River, Flat Brook, Paulins Kill, Pequest River, Lopatcong and Pohatcong River drainage, and the Musconetcong River. Each of these watersheds drain southeast into the Delaware River. This region is excellent for trout production and maintenance, and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, including some threatened and endangered species.

Each watershed within WMA 1 is its own distinct characteristics. The 65 sq. mile Flat Brook watershed encompasses state parks and forest lands, as well as the Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area. The Flat Brook and its tributaries are among the highest quality surface waters in New Jersey.

The Paulins Kill watershed has the most developed centers in this rural region, but the land use in this area is still largely dominated by agriculture, forests, and open space. The Kill is a popular area for water-based recreation like fly fishing, hiking, and bird watching.

The Pequest River watershed is covered in farms and forests, and there are also many recreational areas for the public to enjoy. The river is home to the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center, which produces up to 700,000 trout annually for stocking in the public waters of New Jersey. As with other watersheds in this region, there is increasing pressure on local ecosystems from expanding residential and commercial development.

Pohatcong Creek flows 28 miles through Warren County. The creek’s spring-fed waters are among the best in the state, and it is considered to be one of the most accessible streams for recreation. Both the Pohatcong and Lopatcong Creeks run through agricultural landscapes. Water quality is impacted by agricultural and suburban development, although less so than in other parts of New Jersey.

The Musconetcong River flows from Lake Hopatcong to the main stem of the Delaware River. The watershed is partially developed, but there is still a significant amount of agricultural and forested lands. The river is popular with fishermen and serves as an important recreational feature.

WMA 1 has been increasingly impacted by suburban development over the past decades. As pollution from farming activities (i.e., runoff from croplands and animal holdings) declines, pollution from urban and suburban runoff has increased. This has resulted in increased stream temperatures and elevated levels of sediment, bacteria, and phosphorus.

Watershed Groups and Allies in the Region:

Delaware River Basin Commission
Lake Hopatcong Foundation
Mountain Lake Community Association and Watershed Advisory Group
Musconetcong Watershed Association
New Jersey Highlands Coalition
Ridge and Valley Conservancy
Swartswood Lakes and Watershed Association