Cocheco River

Cocheco: Abenaki for "Rapidly Foaming Water"

The Cocheco River Watershed drains water from 11 towns in New Hampshire. In addition to its largest tributaries, the Ela, Mad, Mohawk, Berrys, and Isinglass Rivers, the watershed includes hundreds of small streams, ponds, and wetlands, many of which have been identified as significant habitat for a variety of wildlife. 


Drainage: 185 square miles
Drinking water source for:  Dover, Rochester
Receives wastewater from: Dover, Farmington, and Rochester
Significant water features: Berrys River, Cocheco River

Watershed Description

The Cocheco River forms part of the Piscataqua watershed and is one of seven rivers that drains into the Great Bay Estuary. It drops 730 feet from its headwaters to its confluence with the Salmon Falls River in Dover. In fact, Cocheco is an Abenaki word meaning, "rapidly foaming water", referring to the waterfall in Dover's center.

Landscapes throughout the watershed range from forested floodplains and peat lands, to open grasslands and mixed pine, oak and hemlock forests. Parcels of state, municipal, and privately managed conservation land are located throughout the watershed. The upper watershed is characterized as rural and largely forested, whereas the lower section is much more developed and includes the fifth and sixth largest cities by population in the state (Rochester at 30,052 and Dover at 30,750). 

Local Information

Towns in Watershed

New Hampshire: Barrington, Dover, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Northwood, Rochester, Rollinsford, Somersworth, Strafford

Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership​

The Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership is a collaboration of conservation organizations in the coastal region that promotes landscape-scale land conservation and stewardship. Through land conservation and stewardship, one of their goals is to achieve and maintain the water quality and quantity necessary to support the aquatic living resources of the Great Bay and its tributaries within the Coastal Watershed and to protect human health. 

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