Educational Tools

NWNL Educational Tools

Raritan River Basin Hydro-Graphics

THE RARITAN RIVER BASIN is comprised of six counties drained by a relatively short 70-mile river. Its Highland headwaters are hilly and its urban main stem, now densely populated with an intense industrial legacy may have been the original course of the Hudson River 6,000 years ago. Today the Raritan Bay, drains into the busy port of the NY-NJ Hudson Bay. In Colonial times, Dutch settlers built gristmills here on what Native Americans called “The Forked River.” An 1830s canal joined the Delaware and Raritan Rivers, connecting New York to Philadelphia and Pennsylvania coal resources.

Today the rural Upper Raritan, habitat for ancient brook trout, struggles to preserve farms and open space and to control the large deer population threatening forest renewal. The Lower Raritan, known as one of the most polluted U. S. rivers, is still heavily impacted by industrial and storm-runoff pollution. Flood damage has increased due to urban development and impervious coverage of land, as well as more intense storms attributed to climate change. Upstream and downstream stakeholders are now working together to address their widely differing challenges.