High Crest Lake gets WM Council support to remedy problems

The Council cosigned loan agreements that will pay for addressing multiple lake issues.

| 23 Mar 2022 | 08:40

Eventually most North Jersey lakes suffer from weed growth and algae bloom problems, and often the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Dam Safety Division determines that aging lake dams are becoming unsafe. They must be replaced or their lake may have to be breached. This work is costly and, without help, lake community people could may not immediately find the thousands of dollars necessary to fix the problems.

The state lends money to lake community applicants for dam replacement and silting projects, and applicants must pay all of it back to the state. No township taxpayer money or other township funds are involved at any time.

The state Dam Division announced that the 60-year-old High Crest Lake dam must be replaced. Along with that news, people in the 280-home community observed that their lake quality needed some attention too. A $1.25 million loan has already been approved for that dam replacement and $500,000 more is needed to meet a goal of desilting material that does not belong in the lake and to bring the water body back to its original contour.

Richard Kluge, a High Crest Lake resident, approached the Township of West Milford Council to inform them about a proposed desilting project to address lake problems. He explained that only certain areas of the lake have been disilted and, due to changes in storm drains, there has been an increase and build-up of silt and gravel that was cast into the lake.

As a result of this problem, lake activities are being limited as increasing weed growth and algae blooms in the water become detrimental.

Kluge explained that eutrophication occurs when a nutrient buildup in the lake causes dense plant growth, leading to death of aquatic life because of oxygen lack in the water. Desilting is a required step to maintain the health of the lake. He said the state Dam Division is expected to loan the Lodge the $550,000 necessary for the work. The stipulation was that the Township of West Milford must co-sign the loan application. This is the same type of agreement that High Crest and other lake communities have had to produce before they successfully received loans and fixed their lake dams.

High Crest Lake people hope that this project will be coordinated with the lake dam reconstruction work, which is already approved. Lowering the lake water will be necessary for both projects.

After Kluge asked the township council to endorse submittal of the loan application for money to be made available by the NJDEP, they adopted the approval resolution. The hope is to coordinate dam refurbishment with desilting, as the lake will need to be lowered for both projects.

Dam loans have occurred in the past but none for desilting, said Councilwoman Marilyn Lichtenberg. The scoring in this case was significant enough for it to qualify, and the state will come through with the assessment, it was reported.