Nashua River Watershed Association Nashua River Watershed  Association & The Massachusetts Watershed Initiative
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The Nashua River Watershed


Move your mouse over the map to view an
overlay of the sub-basins.

The Nashua River Watershed

Click here to view a larger image of the Watershed


Nashua River
Watershed Statistics

Total Drainage Area:
538 sq. mi.

MA Total Drainage Area:
454 sq. mi.

NH Total Drainage Area:
74 sq. mi

Total River Length:
56 mi.

MA Total River Length:
46 mi.

Total Forest Area

Total Residential Area

Total Agricultural Area

Major Tributaries: Squannacook, Nissitissit,
Stillwater, Quinapoxet,
North Nashua, and
South Nashua Rivers

Approximate Surface
Area of Lakes, Ponds
and Reservoirs:

6,818 acres


The Nashua River is the heart of a living, working watershed, with a landscape ranging from wild to highly developed. Within its 538 square miles, nearly 240,000 people live and work amidst scenic lands and waters and abundant wildlife. A small corner of the earth, the Nashua watershed is still largely rural at the edge of a great metropolitan area. It is endowed with a wonderful mixture of human and natural resources, from mill cities to rare species.

For thousands of years, the watershed has been used by humans. Today it retains much of its agrarian and early industrial past while actively participating in the high technology economy of the late twentieth century. The watershed's classic New England villages now shelter those who create our current age, while its waters, wetlands, and forests still shelter many of the species that have been here since the retreat of the glaciers.

Thirty years ago the rivers of this watershed were polluted by industrial and residential discharges. The Nashua's restoration has been a model of how communities can recover a natural resource. Today, the natural systems of the river face a broader array of forces that threaten the diversity, the history, the value and the quality of life in this watershed. Wildlife habitat is being fragmented, open land is disappearing, and the byproducts of our civilization are fouling our air and waters in new ways. In solving these problems, the people of the Nashua River watershed can offer a model of how communities can live effectively within their environment.

The Nashua River watershed is an ecosystem, an interacting web of life that is sustained by the elements of water, soil and air. All of us - human, plant and animal - are vital parts. We are all connected in this system. The lives of all of us depend on clean water, clean air, good soil, and on the actions of each other. We, the human community, dominate. We can foul the water or make it clean, destroy wildlife habitat or restore it. Our actions affect the quality of life in the place we live and work.

Our challenge is to understand the intricate workings of this ecosystem, to define the actions that will protect and restore it, and to work together to sustain our ecosystem. As we have planned for the watershed, a common vision of its future has emerged: a healthy ecosystem with clean water and open spaces for human and wildlife communities, where people work together to sustain mutual economic and environmental well-being.

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