The refilling of Lake Hopatcong officially starts today, and it’s going to be a race with nature to see if we can recover 60 inches of water by spring.
It was just three months ago that the Lake Hopatcong water level was close to its ideal nine-feet as measured at the dam.
As Lake Hopatcong started into the controversial five-foot drawdown in September, the lake rapidly lost water volume as a way to allow lakefront homeowners to do repairs on their docks and waterfront.
Additionally, during this draw-down period, an idea developed by the Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF) in 2013 takes this opportunity every five-years to clean any “non-lake” debris that is now visible along the shorelines.
Lake Hopatcong Clean-Up 2018 – Big Success
This year, the LHF partnered with the Lake Hopatcong Commission for the second lake-wide cleanup. More than 400 volunteers logged an excess of 1200 hours collecting debris from 50+ access points around the lake’s nearly 50 miles of shoreline. A dizzying amount of debris was collected, including 4,000 drink containers, 300 plastic bags, 175 toys, 150 articles of clothing and nearly 800 tires. The unseemly assortment of items also featured patio furniture, bowling balls, vacuum cleaners, a canoe, and a television.
So, while the clean-up of Lake Hopatcong can be considered a great success, the real question is will the lake recover 60” of water to gain the full nine-feet by spring?
Risking the value of the Lake to the Community
Lake Hopatcong provides a robust asset to all four communities (Hopatcong, Jefferson, Mount Arlington, and Roxbury) as it helps to drive a fishing and boating industry this is second to none in the State of New Jersey. As such a valuable asset to the Residents and Towns. The five-foot drawdown has always been controversial as to the risk of low water levels in the spring, and a possible unusable lake for 2019.
Local Businesses such as Ray Fernandez, owner of Bridge Marina has always been very vocal in his questioning of the need for a five-foot drawdown.
“I believe that the steps that NJDEP has taken on the 22-inch drawdown may remain a standard for future winter drawdown’s, and more importantly we should discontinue the 60-inch drawdown as it only benefits a few property owner’s construction costs but creates tremendous risk for the overall health of the community and recreational use of the lake”
“Only through these types of efforts are we able to ensure that we have the body of water that makes the lake… Lake Hopatcong"
These concerns have also been echoed by John Kurzman who has authored multiple documents on the “Dangers of Lake Hopatcong 5-Foot Drawdown.” John argues “When the plan was modified last, the roadmap was that the 5-foot recovery plan would be updated before the next one, but that was not done, and the DEP now is not willing to do so.”
In his very scientific evaluation of the normal weather, he raises concerns in the above article that is worth reading.
Ready, Set, Go…
Regardless, we have reached that moment in time where Lake Hopatcong starts its refill and with ideal weather conditions, we’ll see a full pooling of the lake by spring, so that we don’t lose this valuable asset.
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