Monday, September 19th, 2016

TONIGHT AT JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL

The state Department of Environmental Protection is holding a public hearing tonight, Monday Sept. 19, in Jefferson regarding the state’s annual Lake Hopatcong water level drawdown, an issue which has been a subject of great interest to local residents and business owners over the past few decades.

hopatcong_drawdown

The annual Lake Hopatcong drawdown is done to allow for waterfront maintenance and to protect lakeside property from ice damage.

However, in the last two years, Lake Hopatcong has failed to re-establish its full pool following the annual drawdown due to unusual weather patterns, primarily lack of precipitation. In 2015, full pool was missed by four inches and this year by three inches.

Water flows from Lake Hopatcong

Water flows from Lake Hopatcong

The lack of refill renewed discussions throughout the lake community in regards to the extent of the annual drawdown and outflow.

After evaluating various options, and looking at past practices with respect to drawdown modification, the DEP believes there is a path forward to save water in the lake without causing harm or violating surface water quality standards to the Musconetcong River and without further jeopardizing docks, bulkheads and shoreline.

The NJDEP is proposing to reduce the annual winter drawdown for lake front property owner ice protection from 26 inches to 22-inches. As the lake is refilled by direct precipitation, reducing the extent of the annual drawdown is the most effective way of improving lake refill.

The last time annual drawdown was altered was in 1990 from 30 inches to 26 inches due to a four inch deficit in refill

Read the DEP Proposal:

The DEP is seeking the support of the Lake Hopatcong community to move forward with a PILOT of this proposal for the drawdown this fall and the subsequent spring 2017 refill.

An evaluation of the effectiveness of these actions would then take place and if property protection is maintained and the river does not suffer, the plan can be formally amended.

The proposal was presented at the July meeting of the Lake Hopatcong Commission. Certified letters have been sent to 1,800 lake front property owners notifying them of the proposal and the upcoming public hearing.

Read more on Lake Hopatcong issues from the DEP and the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.