Bridge Marina in Lake Hopatcong became the first freshwater marina in the state to be certified in the Department of Environmental Protection’s “New Jersey Clean Marina Program.” “I was pretty happy when we found out we made it,” owner Ray Fernandez says. “It was something we were working on for a long time.”
The marina scored 85 out of 100 possible points, but many of the points are geared toward saltwater marinas, so Fernandez says the low 90s is about as high as they could expect to score—and they will continue to work toward that.
Reaching the certified green status doesn’t just involve one or two changes; it’s a series of adjustments to the facility and practices at the marina that, put together, reduce pollution and protect the lake habitat’s flora and fauna.
For example, Fernandez placed garbage and recycling cans (clearly marked and with lights) on the marina’s grassy area, rather than near the water where debris could end up in the lake. They also added a special fueling dock for personal watercraft to ride onto while filling up with gasoline, thereby making the watercraft more stable and reducing the likelihood that gasoline would spill into the lake. A special ring around the gasoline nozzle also helps reduce the chance that extra fuel will drip into the lake. The marina no longer uses any Styrofoam, more vegetation was planted between the paved areas and the water, and the mechanic shop has changed some of its practices to be more environmentally sound, such as recycling oil and aluminum.
“It’s all these tiny little things, but they all add up,” Fernandez says. “You try to do as much as you can, but stuff slips through the cracks. This really helps you focus on what you can do. And it’s all attainable and stuff you should be doing anyway.”
Employee Laura Foley says she likes working for a place that is environmentally conscious. “It makes me feel better,” she says. “The environment is in such bad shape already, I don’t want to be the one to tip it over the edge.”
In the same mindset, Fernandez says he knows the marina business, by its very nature, leaves a large carbon footprint. “I know I can’t have a clean footprint,” he says, “but this makes it a little better. I’m pretty psyched.”