Commission slates Greenwood Lake draw down for October

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:50

    GREENWOOD LAKE and WEST MILFORD-Greenwood Lake will carry out a draw down in October this year. The draw down is part of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Water Level Management Plan which provides for such an action on the lake every four years. The draw down involves manipulating the water level on the lake to expose rooted aquatic vegetation and sediments to freezing and drying conditions, which serves to effect the growth of the plants. Lou Abel, sub-commission chair of the Greenwood Lake Commission discussed the draw down at a public meeting on Wednesday night. "The main purpose of the draw down is to eliminate water from the shallow areas of the lake where weeds grow to allow winter frost to kill off significant contaminants," Abel said. The outflow of water will start on Oct. 10 and, as Abel explained, will begin slowly so that residents around the lake become accustomed to the water level dropping. After several days the outflow will be increased significantly to compensate for rainfall which can refill the lake if the outflow is not high enough. The drop in water level is restricted to a maximum of five feet. This can be accurately measured from the gauges placed near the flow-control gates on the east shore of the lake, located within Ringwood State Park. Abel also spoke of the additional benefits the draw down will bring to lakeside residents. "There will be the opportunity for individuals to do work that wouldn't otherwise be possible. This could include rock removal, for example." Abel cautioned, however, that permits must be sought before any work is carried out to remove or alter the structure of the lakeside area. Permits will be available from the DEP shortly and those applying may be required to submit photographs and detailed plans of the work intended to be carried out. Those who carry out work without permits may find themselves subject to action from state monitors, who Abel says will be in the area at the time of the draw down. Four years ago some violations were noted on the lake and the DEP intends to prevent the same from happening again. Abel also gave advice to lake residents on the early action they should take and sounded a warning for those whose homes could see their water supply effected. "People should remove their boats and docks earlier than usual," he said. "Also, anyone who has a shallow well which could be effected by the draw down should be aware that it is their own responsibility to find an alternative water supply. It's not the job of the commission or the DEP to supply water to those people during the draw down." On successful completion of the draw down, the lake will be returned to normal levels in February 2006. This will be the fifth draw down since 1983 on Greenwood Lake, with the last one occurring in 2002. In that draw down there was concern from local businesses reliant on the lake at the delay in water levels returning to normal. In March 2002, after the draw down was completed, the water level was still five feet below normal. The lake eventually returned to its average depth with the addition of significant rainfall playing a role in the rate of recovery. Further public meetings will be held to discuss the draw down prior to October to allow Greenwood Lake and West Milford residents effected by the plan to gain further information.