WATERSHED MATTERS: The Watershed Institute announces new name


After a great deal of thought, the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association has changed its name to The Watershed Institute. The change was approved by our Board of Trustees in March as part of a new strategic plan and was announced at our Annual Meeting on April 23.

There are several reasons for the name change.  For starters, our old name was so long that many people found it difficult to remember. The thirteen syllable, hyphenated name was prone to frequent misstatement and inconsistent nicknames. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if there is an “e” in Stony…  And where does the hyphen go?

We were concerned that the long name may have been undermining our efforts to communicate a clear identity and mission.

In addition, our scientists, educators, advocates and land stewards are frequently engaged in geographic areas beyond our immediate watershed region. For example, we are working with NJDEP under a new grant to develop and coordinate a statewide volunteer water monitoring network. That program fits better under our new name.

We chose The Watershed Institute after a thorough review of potential new names and discussions with a broad range of Watershed constituents. As close followers of the organization know, we’ve been using this name for almost two decades for a program within the organization that promotes the health and vitality of other watershed associations and a strong watershed movement in New Jersey. That program will continue in this vital role and be more closely integrated into policy work of the organization.

We expect that the shorthand nickname “the Watershed” will continue to be widely used. But for those who may be hearing about us for the first time, we hope the new name will project the image of a science-based organization of substance and integrity in a way that will be more easily understood than our old name.

Although we’ve changed our name, our mission remains unchanged and just as critical as before.  Our work will continue to focus on keeping central New Jersey’s water clean, safe and healthy. We will also continue to honor the rich history and traditions of this august institution, which we trace back to our founding by David Hunter McAlpin, Kathleen Peyton, and other leaders in 1949.

New Strategic Plan

In addition to advancing the name change, our new Strategic Plan establishes several long-term goals:

  • Improving the management of polluted stormwater runoff to restore the natural abundance and diversity of our streams;
  • Addressing bacteria contamination and other concerns in lakes to make them safe for swimming;
  • Removing abandoned dams and maintaining clean water to allow American shad and other migratory fish to flourish in the Millstone River and its tributaries; and
  • Implementing a habitat management and visitor services plan for our 950-acre natural reserve.

A fifth goal, however, is perhaps most important.

In order to really advance our mission, The Watershed Institute must commit itself to substantially increasing public awareness and understanding of water issues, the challenges facing our water resources, and the actions necessary to achieve clean water and healthy ecosystems in our region.

Put simply, our challenge is to raise the region’s “Water IQ”.

But we don’t want to just impart greater knowledge about water, we need to empower and engage more people in actions necessary to secure clean water.

This overarching goal will infuse all of our programming and our communications and will inspire new exhibits and new interpretive signage at our center, on our reserve, and throughout our region.

We hope you like our new name as much as we do and that you’ll take the time to explore our Water IQ initiative as it unfolds in the coming months.

The Watershed Institute (formerly the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association) is dedicated to keeping Central New Jersey’s water clean, safe and healthy. Founded in 1949, the Watershed Association protects and restores water and the environment through conservation, advocacy, science and education. For more information about the Watershed, www.thewatershed.org or call 609-737-3735.