Recap of Lake Hopatcong Commission Meeting
Monday, October 19, 2015, 7 p.m.
Mt. Arlington Borough Hall, Mt. Arlington
A summary of key items discussed by the Lake Hopatcong Commission at its monthly meeting:
- Commissioner David Jarvis introduced a draft resolution to recommend the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection look at reducing the annual drawdown and what its effects might be. “What this resolution is meant to do is to get the DEP to look at the level at which we can reduce the drawdown,” Jarvis said. He said his resolution is in response to the DEP officials who spoke at the September meeting, who said any changes to the drawdown level or schedule would have to be approved by all four towns around the lake. “I want to make sure the DEP doesn’t have us going into the towns without knowing what the number should be,” he said. Commissioner Richard Zoschak, who was serving as chairman for the meeting, said that the resolution does not have the proper legal structure, so there would be no point in voting on it that evening; instead, he suggested dedicating the next meeting to discuss the subject. Jarvis suggested that he would want at least an hour dedicated reviewing the statistics and other information at the November meeting. Commissioner Mark Crowley said before he voted on anything, he would want to know of everyone on the commission was OK with the concept, and he expressed his concern about litigation worries that might stop the towns from getting on board with any change. Jarvis said he thought the problem is truly connected to the constant outflow of 12 cubic feet of water per second from the dam, but that that subject cannot be tackled until the drawdown has been viewed more closely. “If the 12 cfs were managed properly, we wouldn’t have a problem with the drawdowns,” he said. “That’s my opinion based on research.” Mt. Arlington resident Bill Doran said he didn’t like the plan for a “lecture” at the next meeting. “A real approach is… asking for an independent opinion of what would happen to many homes around this lake [if the drawdown was changed]… there are hundreds of foundations and footings close to the lake; what’s going to happen to them?” Mt. Arlington resident Rob Gruber said he was becoming a pessimist on the lake issues after only being able to use his boat for three weeks this summer, and suggested that lakefront residents might have to stage a tax revolt to get more resources dedicated to the lake and for some consideration of compromise solutions on the water level. Lake Hopatcong resident John Kurzman said that the 12 cfs release resulted in the loss of 10.8 inches of lake level over three months, and that the state didn’t follow its own formula for reducing the outflow at times of need. “They broke our refill,” Kurzman said, “and now we’re just fighting with ourselves on how to solve it.” Mike Francis of Hopatcong said that he thought the discussion of the water level was a waste of time when he believes weeds are truly the biggest problem facing the lake. Lake Hopatcong Marine owner Ron Sorensen said he thought Jarvis’s resolution was a good start. “Everyone means well, but nothing gets done,” he said. “I urge you guys to get behind the resolution and make it happen. Keep plugging away.”
- Dan Bello of the State Park Service reported on the weed harvest, which ran from June 18 to September 30 and resulted in 2,865 cubic yards of aquatic weeds being removed from Lake Hopatcong. “The harvester crew did a great job with tough conditions,” Bello said. Commissioner Fred Steinbaum indicated that the large number of weeks harvested is more a reflection of how bad conditions have gotten than anything. “This is a false number to take pride in,” he said. Lake Hopatcong resident John Kurzman asked why the harvesters were taken out of Woodport before the job was done there. Bello responded that “sometimes you have to make difficult decisions” with limited resources. Doran said that the harvesting schedule did not coincide with the heaviest growing season, and Bello said that they would reassess the schedule during the winter.
The machines, Bello reported, are now being cleaned and transported to the Franklin storage facility, where repairs and maintenance will take place. He indicated that they don’t have a hard number for state funding next year, but that he’s been told to expect the same $155,000 that was allocated for 2015. Crowley suggested that the Lake Hopatcong Commission should put together a resolution asking for more than $155,000, since that doesn’t get the job done. “I’m not happy with them saying [we get $155,000],” he said. “If we don’t ask for more, then we’re just sitting here. We should always try.”
- Fred Lubnow of Princeton Hydro reported that the water quality monitoring annual report should be completed in time for the November meeting. He said that they postponed the start of the bathymetric study because of the excessive weed growth, but that they were looking to move forward on installing four stormwater management units in Jefferson in early December.
- Zoschak spoke about his experience at the Lake Loop on October 11, which he said was a “nice thing for the lake community” and brought a lot of people out to enjoy and support Lake Hopatcong.
The next meeting of the Lake Hopatcong Commission is scheduled for Monday, November 16 at 7 p.m. at the Mt. Arlington Municipal Building, 419 Howard Boulevard, Mt. Arlington, NJ.