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How Your Watershed Works

May 01, 2015

By Victoria Sterling-Scales, AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador Area 15

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is the area of land that drains off into a common waterway, such as a lake, river, stream or bay. The boundaries of each watershed are broken down into different water regions based on where the water flows. Ridges and hills that separate two watersheds are called the drainage divide.



New Jersey has 20 different watershed management areas, and most of Atlantic County is located in the watershed known as the Atlantic Coastal Region or watershed management area 15 (WMA15). 



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WMA 15 is made up of many rivers like the Great Egg Harbor River, which is recognized as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System because of its unique qualities; tributaries like the Tuckahoe River, which is one of the rare blackwater rivers located in the Northeast; wetlands; and underlying groundwater like the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer.

As rainfall or snow melt occurs, water flows into our soil, groundwater, tributaries, rivers, and eventually the Great Egg Harbor Bay and Atlantic Ocean. 

Protecting Our Watershed

The network of streams and rivers in our watershed not only carry water to the Great Egg Harbor Bay and Atlantic Ocean. They also transport any pollutants that enter the mix. Because of this, it is incredibly important to recognize the effect that human actions like littering, not picking up dog waste, using harmful chemicals, leaking car oil, etc. can have on our water supply, public health, and the environment.  Because our watershed connects us, such actions that occur in one area of the county are not isolated; they can and will affect the entire watershed.

It is why litter abatement programs, like the Adopt-A-Road program here in Atlantic County, are so important.


What You Can Do

Everyone can help protect our watershed by avoiding the harmful actions listed above and helping to clean litter wherever you see it. It is easy and free to adopt a road near your house or business. Click here to learn more about Atlantic County's program.

It is also important to spread awareness and education about our watershed. For more information on watersheds,visit: