The lower Passaic River is a 17-mile long highly urbanized river that stretches from Newark Bay to the Dundee Dam in northern New Jersey. As the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, the lower Passaic has been exposed to a wide variety of environmental insults over the past 150 years, such as sediment and water column contamination from industrial effluents, loss of tidal and freshwater wetland habitat through bulkheading and other anthropogenic structural changes, and filling of historical tributaries or conversion to storm sewer drains. As a result, freshwater inflows have been reduced dramatically; tidal and freshwater wetland habitat has been almost completely destroyed; adverse impacts to fish, shellfish, birds and mammal populations have been extensive; and human uses such as fishing, rowing, boating, swimming, picnicking and wildlife observation have been severely degraded.
The Passaic River Restoration Project was undertaken by a variety of public and private organizations in response to these resource challenges. It is one of eight pilot sites selected jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under the Urban River Restoration Initiative pursuant to an interagency MOU signed by the Corps and EPA on July 2, 2002. Subsequently, a number of other Federal, State and local public entities, NGOs and more than 40 corporations have joined the initiative.