[The following information has been adapted from resources developed by the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection Division of Watershed Management.]
Watershed Management Area (WMA) 7 is made up of large portions of Essex, Union, and Middlesex Counties. The Arthur Kill itself is a saltwater channel that lies between New Jersey and Staten Island, NY. It is fed by several waterways, including the Elizabeth, Rahway, and Woodbridge rivers, and the Moses, Piles, and Smith creeks.
The mainstem of the Rahway River is 24 miles long, flowing from Union into the Arthur Kill near Linden. It is tidal from the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge at Rahway down to its mouth. Key tributaries include the East Branch Rahway River, Woodbridge River, and Robinson’s Branch. Major impoundments include the Middlesex Reservoir, Orange Reservoir, Lower and Upper Echo Lakes, and Diamond Mill Pond.
The Elizabeth River is 11 miles long, and much of it is channelized for flood control purposes.
Land uses in the Rahway and Elizabeth watersheds is mainly residential, commercial, and industrial. Water quality in these areas is reflective of these land uses. Hazardous waste sites are present in both watersheds. Landfill leachate may also contribute to water quality pollution in the tidal Rahway River as well as the adjacent Arthur Kill, Marshes Creek, and Kings Creek.
This region is densely populated and has an ongoing legacy of heavy industrial land uses that have negatively impacted water quality. Key problems in this region include industrial and commercial discharges, habitat destruction, and flood control. In addition, nonpoint source pollution from construction activities, urban surfaces, and combined sewer and stormwater overflows degrade local waterways. All of these conditions have contributed to high stream temperatures, elevated sediment and nutrient loadings, periodic low dissolved oxygen, and fish kills. However, there are still stretches of natural landscapes along portions of the various waterways that provide habitat and recreational opportunities.
Watershed Groups and Allies in the Region: