WMA 8: North and South Branch Raritan

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

WMA 8 HighlightWatershed Management Area (WMA) 8 includes the North and South Branches of the Raritan River and their tributaries. Large parts of Somerset, Hunterdon, and Morris Counties are included in this area. The region provides water for drinking, irrigation, recreation, and industrial use to more than a million people. It’s also home to a variety of endangered species, including the bog turtle and the Indiana bat.

The South Branch is 51 miles long and flows from western Morris County through central Hunterdon County and into Western Somerset where it joins the North Branch. Major tributaries include the Neshanic River, Spruce Run Creek, Mulhockaway Creek, and Cakepoulin Creek. Major impoundments are the Spruce Run and Round Valley Reservoirs.

Land use in the South Branch watershed is largely agricultural, but suburban and industrial development is increasing steadily. Overall, water quality is considered to be good. Warm summertime temperatures may threaten aquatic life, especially in areas of the river designated for trout maintenance. Elevated lead levels may also be threatening the river’s ability to support aquatic life. South Branch tributaries generally have high water quality with slight nutrient enrichment.

The North Branch of the Raritan River is 23 miles long and flows from northwestern Morris County through Somerset County to the confluence with the South Branch between the towns of Branchburg and Raritan. Major tributaries include the Peapack Brook, Rockaway Creek, and Lamington River and the only major impoundment is the Ravine Lake.

Land use in the North Branch watershed is primarily rural, woodlands, and agriculture. However, there are scattered areas of commercial and residential development and there is intense development along the major road corridors of Routes 24 and 206, as well as interstate highways 22, 287, and 78.

Within this region there is a decline in farm activity and a rapid increase in suburban development and its associated nonpoint source pollution (which is a common trend throughout the state). These changes in land use have contributed to excessive nutrient and sediment loadings into local waterways.

Watershed Groups and Allies in the Region:

Hunterdon Land Trust
North Jersey RC&D
Raritan Basin Watershed Alliance
Raritan Headwaters
Washington Township Land Trust