GSWA works to preserve our local streams and protect water quality. There are five main streams in the watershed —
Loantaka Brook, Great Brook, Primrose Brook, Black Brook, and the Upper Passaic. Water from these streams and their
tributaries, along with any rain or snow that falls in the watershed, collects in the Great Swamp National Wildlife
Refuge, and exits as the mighty Passaic River near Millington Gorge. Over one million people get their drinking water
from the Passaic River.
The monitoring work done by our “stream team” volunteers
helped form the basis for the development of the first-ever
Water Quality Standards for the
Great Swamp Watershed, released in June 2002. These water quality standards help scientists, policy makers,
and local officials protect the high quality streams from further degradation, as well as prioritize the more degraded
streams for restoration efforts. The long-term goal is to maintain good water quality and, where possible, improve the
overall water quality that sustains the flora and fauna of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and ultimately,
the Passaic River.
Below are some of the water quality-related projects GSWA has recently completed and information on projects that are
- State of the Streams — An analysis of past water
quality data collected in Great Swamp
watershed streams by GSWA and previously by the Ten Towns Committee.
Data has been analyzed for trends to see what the health of our streams is now compared to the past. This comprehensive
report includes chemical and biological data, and will
allow us to better focus our restoration and education efforts on pollutants and locations where it is most needed.
- Adopt-A-Stream — This program involves intensively studying
one stream in the watershed for three years to collect baseline data on water quality. Loantaka Brook, the first stream
in the watershed to be adopted, was monitored 2005-2007. A
final report of the monitoring results was
published in 2008. Great Brook was monitored in 2008-2010, and the
final report was published in 2011.
The Passaic River is currently being monitored under this program.
- Silver Brook Watershed Management Plan
— The Silver Brook, a tributary of Great Brook, flows through our
Conservation Management Area (CMA). Monitoring by GSWA staff and
Stream Team volunteers showed some degradation of the stream channel and water quality as Silver Brook flows through
the CMA, so we set out to find out how to protect the stream. The streams in the Silver Brook subwatershed were
assessed by Stream Team volunteers and consultants from AKRF Consulting to learn more about the characteristics
of the Silver Brook subwatershed and highlight areas in need of restoration. This management plan highlights those
findings and led to the Silver Brook Riparian Buffer Restoration project.
- Silver Brook Riparian Buffer Restoration — GSWA partnered with local landowners to implement one recommendation
in the Silver Brook Watershed Management Plan,
installing vegetated stream buffers in areas where the buffer previously had sparse vegetation or turf grass. With a
grant from the Watershed Institute, GSWA planted buffers at three locations:
the Harding Land Trust property off James St.,
Bayne Park, and the Church of Christ the King.
The three buffers, all in Harding Township, were planted between 2010 and 2012 and function by slowing down and absorbing
stormwater runoff before it enters Silver Brook and its tributaries.
- Adopt-Upper-Passaic — The third stream included in the
Adopt-A-Stream program, GSWA is studying the Passaic River as it
flows through the Great Swamp watershed. Six sampling sites are located on the main stem of the Upper Passaic River and
two tributaries. Quarterly monitoring began in February 2011 and will conclude in November 2013. An
interim report (pdf) details monitoring results through May 2012.
- Seton Hackney Stables — We have almost completed a $300,000 remediation plan, funded by EPA through the DEP, at Seaton
Hackney Stables. The facility, owned by Morris County Park Commission, was a source of bacteria, nutrient, and sediment pollution into
adjacent Loantaka Brook during precipitation events. To reduce stormwater runoff from the property into the stream, ponies have been
relocated further away from the stream, a new paddock has been created, detention basins constructed, and water has been rerouted.
Working with PSEG, over 450 trees and hundreds of shrubs have been planted along the stream, helping filter the animal waste and other
contaminants before they reach the stream. Other partners in this project include the Morris County Park Commission, Princeton Hydro
as environmental stormwater consultants, Rutgers Equine Science Center, and the Seaton Hackney Stables concessioner.
- Stream Cleanups — GSWA has been conducting an annual stream cleanup every spring since 2007. From 2007 through 2011,
these cleanups took place at Kitchell Pond in Loantaka Brook Reservation. Each year, volunteers found successively less
trash until 2012, when there was not enough trash around Kitchell Pond to hold our cleanup there. This truly shows the
success these cleanups have had on the area. For 2012, we changed the cleanup to a Stream Cleanup and Enhancement
and moved upstream along Loantaka Brook next to Seton Hackney Stables. In addition to picking up trash, volunteers focused
their efforts on removing vines and invasive plants, and planting native trees along the bank of Loantaka Brook. These
trees will help stabilize the streambank and will slow down and absorb stormwater runoff before it goes into the stream.
- Annual Macroinvertebrate Survey — Since 2000, Dr. Lee Pollock, Drew University Professor Emeritus, has been studying
the macroinvertebrate communities found at 17 sites throughout the watershed. Macroinvertebrates, or small spineless
aquatic animals (such as mollusks, worms, and insect larvae), have different levels of tolerance to water pollution. The
types and numbers of macroinvertebrates at a site can indicate the quality of the water there. Dr. Pollock has prepared a
comprehensive report on his 2011 findings, as well as a short
summary of findings at each of
the sampling sites, and a presentation
about his findings. Past reports can be found on the website for the
Ten Towns Committee) or by contacting Laura Kelm, GSWA Director of
Water Quality Programs, at
or 973-538-3500, ext. 16.
Millington Gorge River Flow Gauge