For several years, the NC Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has documented several stressors to both fish and macroinvertebrate communities along the Mills River. These stressors are related to different land use activities such as development and agriculture. When not done properly construction activity can generate great amounts of sediment. In addition, after an area is developed, stormwater runoff can still carry contaminants to streams. Similarly, when not applied properly, farming can produce pesticide, herbicides, and fertilizers to be washed into streams following rain events. These contaminants can have negative impact on streams. Buffers between land uses (i.e. construction, agriculture, etc.) can help protect streams. Monitoring and visual inspection has indicated that land use activities need to be done in such a way to protect streams; and buffers need to be more prevalent and generally wider throughout the watershed.
Recognizing the many values of the river and the threats to its quality, the Mills River Partnership formed in August 1998. The Partnership is a public-private organization dedicated to restoring water quality in lower Mills River, Brandy Branch, and Wash Creek while maintaining the outstanding quality of other streams in the watershed. Partnership members include the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, a local land trust serving Henderson and Transylvania counties; the City of Hendersonville; Regional Water Authority of Asheville, Buncombe, and Henderson; Land-of-Sky Regional Council; the United States Forest Service, .Henderson County; and the Henderson County Soil and Water Conservation District. Over the last several years, great efforts have been made toward restoring the Mills River.