Spruce Run Recreation Area is a 1,290-acre (5.2 km2) New Jersey state recreation area located in Union Township and Clinton Township in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, United States. It encompasses the Spruce Run Reservoir that is used as a backup reservoir to protect the state from prolonged droughts. The reservoir is the third largest in the state, after Round Valley and Wanaque Reservoir. The reservoir is used for recreation purposes, including fishing, boating and swimming.
Spruce Run Dam (National ID # NJ00132) was a 1964 project of the New Jersey Water Supply Authority with municipal water supply as its primary use. The earthen dam is 93 feet high, with a length of 5400 feet at its crest. The reservoir has a maximum capacity of 46,770 acre-feet and a normal capacity of 33,670 acre-feet. The reservoir is on land formerly used for farming and metal works over the past few centuries. Prior to European colonization of the area, the land underneath the reservoir was important to the local Native Americans. Of the known Native American sites in Union Township, the majority were found on land inundated by the reservoir. The reservoir was formed by creating a series of dams that allowed the reservoirs two major tributaries to flood the basin that was created. The two main tributaries of the reservoir are the Mulhockaway Creek and Spruce Run Creek. In the 1920s the Elizabethtown Water Company took interest in buying the land and building a reservoir to provide for the growing water demands. The Great Depression postponed any plans to build the reservoir. The state of New Jersey resumed plans to build the reservoir in 1956, and by 1964 construction of the reservoir was completed.
At times of drought, Spruce Run feeds water into the nearby south branch of the Raritan River to supply water to more populated areas of the state downstream. The reservoir can store up to 11 billion gallons of water (42,000,000 m3) at full capacity. Along with Round Valley Reservoir, the reservoirs play a critical role in supply raw water to much of northern New Jersey. Water levels at the reservoir fluctuate greatly throughout the year, which has led to decreased vegetation in the photic zone. This has a variety of repercussions for fish in the lake including decreased structure and habitat for juvenile fish. In recent years the reservoir's water levels have been lowered significantly for large portions of the year.
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