If the grass is always greener on the other side, you can bet the water bill is higher.  (Source, unknown)

The little witticism above illustrates our attitudes towards water not only in NJ, but in the East in general.  Water in our area is usually plentiful and we tend take it for granted. However, the pressures on our rivers and streams, as well as our water supply are many and climate change may seriously challenge our attitudes, as well as our water supply.

Our way of life depends upon water and without a clean, fresh and abundant supply it will certainly suffer. This impacts drinking water supply, residential household needs, industrial and commercial needs, outdoor recreation, transportation and much more.  Demands on and issues facing our limited water supply can include too much water (weather related flooding and storm water runoff), too little (periodic droughts), pollution, and greatly increased development, to name some of the major issues.

About Our  Water

The major Watersheds in Mercer County are the Delaware Watershed and the Millstone River (from the Raritan).


The Delaware River Basin

  • The Delaware River Watershed borders the western edge of Mercer County.  The region is divided into Upper and Lower Basins.  The division between the two lies at the falls in Trenton where the river becomes tidal as it is influenced by waters from the Atlantic.  The Watershed is large, covering a 137 sq miles of the County.  The Delaware is the longest undammed river in the eastern US.  However, many of its tributaries are dammed to provide water to NJ communities.

Delaware River Tributaries in Mercer County

  • Mercer County tributaries include Assunpink Creek, Moores Creek, Jacobs Creek, Fiddlers Creek and the Crosswicks Creek at the southern end.
  • The Assunpink Creek is also at the southern end of the basin and runs 25 miles from Monmouth County into Hamilton, Trenton and Lawrence, covering a 91-square-mile watershed.  Its tributaries include the Shabacunk Creek and Miry Run.

The Raritan River Basin

  • The Millstone River watershed is part of the Raritan River Basin which empties into Raritan Bay near Sandy Hook, NJ.  It’s watershed in Mercer County is 92 square miles.  The Millstone River is a 38.6-mile-long tributary. .

Millstone River Tributaries in Mercer County

  • The Stony Brook is the Millstone River’s largest tributary.  The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed is a 265-square-mile area of central New Jersey. The watershed includes the northeastern part of Mercer County.  Other tributaries include Rocky Brook, Harry’s Brook,

The D&R Canal

A major portion of the 58 mile long Delaware and Raritan Canal traverses the County from south to north.

Challenges – All of these watersheds are challenged with some or all of the following:

  • loss of open space (including extensive suburbanization along Route 1 and Route 33 corridors);
  • loss and fragmentation of agriculture, wetlands and forested areas to development;
  • nutrient and fecal contamination of streams;
  • localized flooding;
  • loss of ground water recharge;
  • significant locations of moderate stream impairment;
  • inadequate public understanding of water conservation;
  • tax structures that encourage suburban rather than urban development AND historic town and village centers and related scenic natural landscapes threatened by suburban sprawl development; and
  • inconsistent land use planning AND commercial, development and industrial interests not adequately engaged in overall planning process.

Local Resources

ANJEC | Delaware River Basin CommissionDelaware Riverkeeper  | Isles, Inc.Friends of Hopewell Valley | Mercer County Planning and SCD)NJ Conservation FoundationSourlands Conservancy | The Watershed InstituteDelaware and Raritan Greenway


Save H2ONJ.org
“Fights for smarter water policy across NJ”  – a campaign to highlight the importance of regional planning and water supply protection.  Advocates for an update to the NJ State Water Supply Master Plan  which hasn’t been updated since 1996.


New Jersey Drought Information
The NJ DEP provides News and Announcements regarding the state’s water supply as well as Current Conditions including Precipitation Statistics, Reservoir Levels, Status and Indicators and Water Supply Conditions

Tips for residents

  • Repair leaky faucets.
  • Consider replacing inefficient appliances like toilets, dishwashers and washing machines with water accessories that reduce water use.
  • Install toilet dams, faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads.
  • When buying a dishwasher/washing machine, select one with a “light-wash” option or adjusts to load size.  Buy “Energy Star” appliances that are more efficient and use less energy.
Small Actions that Add up indoors
  • When cooking, peel and clean vegetables in a large bowl of water instead of under running water.
  • Fill your sink or basin when washing and rinsing dishes.
  • Only run the dishwasher/washing machine when full.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Turn off the water to brush teeth, shave and soap up in the shower. Fill the sink to shave.
  • Reduce the amount of water guzzling lawn on your property.  Replace with native plants that are adapted to normal rainfall conditions in our area and will provide an added bonus of creating wildlife habitat.  Use xeriscaping techniques to select plants that have reduced water requirements.
  • Cluster plants that require extra water together closer to the house to minimize time and save water.
  • Minimize watering.  Most plants need about 1″ per week.  If you do water, water early in the day to reduce evaporation.  Use soaker hoses rather than overhead watering to get the water to the plant roots where it is needed and to reduce fungal growth and disease.
  • Be sure to mulch garden beds liberally.  This will reduce evaporation, promote plant growth and control weeds.
  • Compost and use it to amend the soil to improve soil conditions and water retention.
  • Use rain barrels to collect rainfall for irrigation.