Encompassing 83 square miles, the Rahway River watershed is one of the oldest urbanized areas of the State of New Jersey stretching from Edison Township in Middlesex County north to the Oranges of Essex County and westward to the Watchung Ridges. Despite the highly developed landscape that predominates the region, the watershed remains resilient with oases of remarkable natural areas teaming with wildlife tucked in pockets along the various branches of the Rahway River. For these reasons, the Rahway River Watershed Association has been the region’s leading voice in championing the cause of preserving open space, improving water quality and protecting natural resources of the Rahway River watershed since 1992.
If You've Ever Wondered How Rivers Get Their Curves, The Answer Is Both Simple And Fascinating –
The Rahway River is approximately 24-mile long and consists of four distinct branches. The West Branch, begins in West Orange and flows south through South Mountain Reservation and directly through downtown Millburn. The East Branch originates between West Orange and Orange and travels through South Orange and Maplewood. These two branches meet near Route 78 in Springfield and then flows south through Clark, Cranford, and Union. In Rahway, two additional branches flow into the main stem of the Rahway River. The Robinson’s Branch begins in Scotch Plains and flows east through Westfield and Clark. The South Branch begins in Edison and flows north through Woodbridge before joining the main stem in Rahway. After these two branches flow into the river, it continues through Linden and Carteret, forming the border between Middlesex and Union counties, and ultimately drains into the Arthur Kill.
The Rahway River’s woodlands and wetlands provide much needed wildlife habitat in the region. Recent Bio Blitzes (a 24 hour biological inventory) conducted in the watershed have documented the presence of nearly 700 species of plants and animals. The Rahway River is home to four anadromous fish species (fish that spawn in freshwater and live in saltwater) and one species of catadromous fish species (fish that spawn in salt water and live in freshwater). Portions of the Rahway River are stocked with trout by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. In addition to its flora and fauna, the Rahway River is also the source of drinking water for people living in the City of Rahway.
There are close to 5,000 acres of county parklands in the Rahway River watershed. Portions of the Rahway River are part of the East Coast Greenway, a 2,600 mile trail between Maine and Florida. Much of the Rahway River corridor in Essex and Union counties is public open space. The lower Rahway River is tidal. The tidal portion of the river extends upstream into the City of Rahway. The upper reach of river corridor consists of woodlands and freshwater wetlands, while the lower reach consists of salt marshes and tidal flats. Flooding is a natural and reoccurring event for a river system. The preserved open space and parklands in both the lower and upper reaches of the river provide critical floodplains to help during flooding events.
The Rahway River watershed drains portions of Essex, Middlesex and Union counties. There are 24 municipalities in the Rahway River watershed including Carteret, Clark, Cranford, Edison, Fanwood, Garwood, Kenilworth, Linden, Maplewood, Metuchen, Millburn, Mountainside, Orange, Plainfield, Rahway, Scotch Plains, Springfield, South Orange, Westfield, West Orange, Winfield Park, Woodbridge, Union and Summit.