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 The watershed specialist


Hydrologic CycleHydrologic Cycle
The watershed specialist for Northampton County serves as a source of technical assistance to local watershed groups, municipalities, and others interested in protecting and improving their watersheds. The specialist can help provide educational programs, assist with watershed planning and projects, work to promote better water quality protection, and prepare and apply for grants for the District on projects involving soil and water resources.


Sobers Run at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center Sobers Run at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center








The watershed specialist works with many project partners including the Bushkill Stream Conservancy, the Martins Jacoby Watershed Association, Heritage Conservancy, Wildlands Conservancy, Northampton County municipalities, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, as well as many others.

 What is watershed

A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place (generally a creek or river).

As you might imagine a watershed can be many different sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries, and no matter where you are, you're in a watershed!
For example, here in Northampton County, we all live in the Delaware River Watershed, since all of our waterways make their way to the Delaware River. Because the Delaware River Watershed contains many streams and rivers, it contains many other smaller watersheds.
For instance, in Williams Township, the Fry's Run watershed drains directly to the Delaware River. While people living in the western and some southern portions of the county are on land that drains to the Lehigh River, which is on its way to the Delaware River, via the Monocacy, Hokendauqua, and Saucon Creeks, as well as other streams and creeks.
Watersheds are more than just drainage areas in and around our communities. They provide all of the drinking water for people and wildlife, and they provide the opportunity for recreation and enjoyment of nature, among others things.

Meet Your Watershed (an 11" x 17" introduction to Northampton County Watersheds)

We all influence what happens in our watershed, good or bad, and whatever happens in our small watersheds also affects the larger watershed downstream.
What watershed do you live in? Click on the Northampton County Watersheds find out!

 Watershed protection


There are two types of water resource pollution, Point Source and Nonpoint Source.

  • Point Source Pollution is a direct discharge into a river, stream, lake or pond. Examples of Point Source pollution include a sewage treatment plant or an industrial wastewater discharge.
    Point Source Pollution is regulated by state and federal agencies to minimize the probability that water resources will be negatively impacted. One of the requirements for projects proposing to discharge wastewater is to get a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Development sites proposing earth disturbance must also have an approved Erosion and Sediment Control plan.
  • Nonpoint Source Pollution is pollution that enters our streams, lakes and ground water from diffuse sources. An example would include stormwater runoff that can pick up sediments, nutrients, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, animal waste, petroleum, litter and all sorts of other things on its way to our waterways.
    Due to the diffuse nature of nonpoint source pollution, it is much more difficult to regulate.

​What Can You Do?

Everyone can help to minimize nonpoint source pollution. Just a few things you can do to protect water resources include the following:

  • Learn About Backyard Conservation from the National Association of Conservation Districts 
  • Learn About Your Watershed - Contact your local watershed group or County Watershed Specialist and find out what about your watershed. 
  • Become Active in Your Watershed - Find a watershed organization in your community and volunteer to help. If there are no active groups, consider starting your own.
  • Become a Volunteer Water Quality Monitor. Help collect water quality data and build stewardship for your local waterbody.
  • Organize or join in the cleanup of a stream, river, or wetland.
  • Create a Wildlife Habitat in your Backyard.
  • Maintain vegetated buffers along streams on your property and in your neighborhood. Forested buffers along our streams and other bodies of water reduce impacts caused by runoff flows, intercept sediments, take-up excess nutrients and other pollutants, moderate stream temperatures and increase wildlife habitat values.
  • Preserve wetlands on your property and in your neighborhood. Wetlands have numerous water quality and quantity values when looked at from a watershed point of view. Wetlands store stormwater, slowly replenish groundwater aquifers and filter sediments and other pollutants. Wetlands also provide critical habitats to many of the regions rarest species of plants and animals.
  • Manage stormwater runoff from your property. Direct runoff to a low point on your property and detain it in a grassy swale or rain garden. Direct rooftop runoff onto lawn areas, or rain gardens, not the driveway.
  • Do not dispose of anything into curbside storm drains. Many times these drains lead directly to receiving streams. Even during dry weather the stuff you put down the drain will get into the stream the next time it rains.
  • Help Increase Public Awareness in Your Watershed.
  • Learn how land use and development decisions affect your water resources and how watershed planning and the watershed approach can help. Find out about model ordinances to protect water quality at EPA's Model Ordinances to Protect Local Resources web pages and the Center for Watershed Protection. Also learn about alternatives to current development patterns such as low-impact development and smart growth.




1. Bertsch-Hokendauqua-Catasauqua Watershed Association
2. Bushkill Stream Conservancy
3. Cook’s Creek Watershed Association
4. Fry’s Run Watershed Association
5. Martins-Jacoby Watershed Association
6. Monocacy Creek Watershed Association
7. Saucon Creek Watershed Association
8. Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley (An umbrellas group of all the independent watershed orgs in the Valley (


Water Resources Education Network

Delaware River Basin Commission

Delaware Estuary Program

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds & Rivers

Pennsylvania Environmental Council

Watershed Weekly Webcast

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