This spring and summer, the Lake Hopatcong Commission has been busy working with the towns around the lake to implement projects to prevent pollutants and sediment runoff during storms from entering the lake. Commonly referred to as stormwater management, these projects are funded through two grants from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
To keep project costs to a minimal, Jefferson Township Department of Public Works agreed to provide the staff and equipment to install two Nutrient Separating Baffle Boxes™ by Suntree Technologies, Inc. The baffle box is designed to treat the stormwater flow and captures a wide variety of pollutants including total suspended solids (TSS), sediment, debris, organic material, hydrocarbons, and trash.
The first box was installed in June near the Brady Bridge by the playground on East Shore Drive. The second box was installed in July at the ball field owned by Lake Forest Yacht Club near the Woodport section.
Beginning in September, a third Baffle Box will be installed as part of Mount Arlington’s Village Center Flood Control and Drainage Improvement project. Both the baffle box and the contractor cost to install the device are funded through the EPA grant to the Commission.
Another project funded through the EPA grant was completed in July in the King Cove section of Roxbury Township. Instead of installing a stormwater management device, a contract was awarded to retrofit an existing detention basin to function as a wetland pond/basin. Rip-rap and sediment were excavated from the basin and wetland plants were planted throughout the basin. Wetlands provide essential ecological benefits that no other land type can which include water quality improvement, flooding control and recharge to ground water.
As part of the DEP grant, a different type of stormwater device is being utilized. The contract to install an Aqua-Filter™ Stormwater Filtration System manufactured by AquaShield™ Inc. was awarded to Harrington Construction. The Aqua-filter removes a substantial proportion of dissolved phosphorus from stormwater with the use of filter media. This device will be installed on Castle Rock Road near Rock Road in Jefferson Township. The project is scheduled to begin in August with anticipated completion prior to Labor Day. The Commission’s first stormwater management project was completed last fall when a contractor installed an Aqua-Filter™ at the Crescent Cove Beach Club in Hopatcong Borough. Plans are being finalized to install a second Aqua-Filter™ nearby.
According to in-lake monitoring data conducted by Princeton Hydro, an environmental consultant to the Commission, it has been well documented that phosphorus is the primary limiting nutrient in Lake Hopatcong. A slight increase in phosphorus will result in a substantial increase in the amount of algal and/or aquatic plant/weed growth. The two monitoring stations in River Styx/Crescent Cove consistently display the highest phosphorus concentrations.
Stormwater monitoring is a critical component of these projects to measure the effectiveness of the devices. The grant work plans require that at least three pre-installation and three post-installation stormwater samples are collected. Both stormwater monitoring and in-lake monitoring will enable the Commission to document a reduction in stormwater pollutants entering the lake. The objective of all these stormwater management projects is to reduce the sediment and pollutant load from entering the lake. If a reduction in the pollutant load is documented, it will improve the Commission’s chances for continued grant funding.
These stormwater management structures will be maintained by the municipal Public Works Departments. The maintenance frequency to clean the devices will vary depending upon the pollutant load of the surrounding area. The towns will also incur the ongoing cost to replace the media within these stormwater management structures to ensure their optimal performance level.
The engineering design, implementation and maintenance of stormwater devices are costly and time-consuming. However, everyone can due their part to keep the lake clean and reduce the pollutants from entering the lake without installing one of these expensive devices on your property. Here are some simple tips:
• FERTILIZERS: Use non-phosophorus, lake-friendly fertilizer. Do not apply fertilizer within 10 feet of any waterbody or wetland and do not apply before a heavy rainfall. All fertilizer bags have three numbers listed and lake-friendly fertilizer will have a zero in the middle, 10-0-10.
• LITTER: Place litter, including cigarette butts and fast food containers, in the trash.
• CAR WASHING: Avoid washing cars or boats near the lake or only use low-phosphate, biodegradable products.
• PET WASTE: Clean up and properly dispose of pet waste in the garbage or toliet. Do not dispose of pet waste in the storm drains.
• GEESE: Do not feed the geese or other water fowl.
• SEPTIC SYSTEMS: Have your septic system pumped out every three years, or as often as appropriate for your system.
• MOTOR OIL: Do not dump motor oil down storm drains or on the ground. Take it to a local recycling center.
• BOAT DISCHARGE: Always use marine santitation devices and pump-out facilities at marinas to dispose of boat sewage. For a list of Lake Hopacong pump-out stations visit www.lakehopatcong.org.
To learn more on how to protect our lake and to understand how this stormwater management devices work, the Commission has developed an outreach program as part of the EPA grant. To schedule a presentation for your group, organization or class, contact the Commission Office at 973-601-1070. A presentation can be tailored to fit any time requirements and we strongly encourage all organizations to participate. A modified version of the presentation is also available for students. Interested students should have their teacher or club adviser contact the Commission to schedule an informative presentation about New Jersey’s largest lake.
Donna Macalle-Holly is the administrator of the Lake Hopatcong Commission.