Melissa Castellon of the State Park Service is attempting to get a permit to clean out the deltas where storm drains enter Lake Hopatcong during the five-foot drawdown this fall.

She explained to the Lake Hopatcong Commission at its meeting on Monday, September 17, that she needs engineering drawings sealed by a licensed professional engineer from one of the municipalities. They would enable the four municipalities around the lake to undertake a clean-up project within the following five years. If they are not received in time for this drawdown, the permit would still be viable for the next one.

No permit is required for cleaning out sumps, said resident John Kurzman, noting that Jefferson Township has a vacuum truck it has used for that purpose.

The permit is necessary for using a backhoe, commissioner Mark Fisch stated. A homeowner can clean the deltas with a shovel and a wheelbarrow without a permit.

Castellon said Jefferson representatives indicated they would not do the cleaning of draining facilities this time since they did it during the last drawdown. She and commission secretary Colleen Conover indicated that Hopatcong officials were not sure if they were responsible for cleaning the facilities.

Dock Survey in Progress

Another sort of clean-up is making progress, commissioner Fred Steinbaum reported. He has been traveling around the lake in the commission’s boat trying to get people to repair dilapidated docks that are shedding wood into the lake. He is about two-thirds of the way done, he said, with most of Hopatcong and all of Roxbury to go.

Many of the docks have no clear ownership. Some belonged to beach associations that owned a fire lane down to the lake and a dock, but they no longer exist, he explained.

The dock in the worst shape is at the old Alamac Hotel in Mount Arlington. The huge hotel burned in 1948, but concrete steps still lead from Edgemere Avenue to the lake. Martin Kane of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation said the Alamac Association has not paid taxes to Mount Arlington in years and the borough will foreclose on the property, which has 20 feet of lake frontage. “The best case scenario is that the owners on each side will buy the land,” he noted, adding that there is quite a bit of structure left to take down.

Steinbaum spoke to an owner on Halsey Island. Since he could not figure out how to turn off the boat’s blinking light, he must have looked very official, although the man would not give his name. “People were yelling out ‘you’re doing a great job’ as we went past,” he reported.

Commissioner Dan McCarthy has been talking to the municipalities about ice retardant systems. For the most part, it is a matter of education for the people who own the systems. He said Roxbury Township’s system of mandatory registration without a fee seems to work.

Dan McCarthy discusses ice retardant systems. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Lake residents are concerned that people who leave the area for the winter have propeller-driven systems controlled by timers that may malfunction and leave too much open water, which can be dangerous, especially when snow covers thin ice.

Grass Carp

Kane reported that he, Dr. Fred Lubnow from Princeton Hydro, mayor Mike Francis of Hopatcong, and others made a presentation to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on the use of sterile grass carp for weed control. The carp eat leafy weeds of the kind found in Crescent Cove and the canals.

Martin Kane of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation reports on the status of grass carp for weed control and Fred Steinbaum listens. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

State officials are mostly concerned about the carp disrupting the habitat of other fish, even though they cannot reproduce. “They are concerned the fish will get into the Musconetcong River and eat too much grass,” Kane said. Other lakes that use the grass carp do not have a problem with their getting out, he added.

Lubnow is working on a report of the possible costs of a containment structure to assure that the fish stay in the lake. The DEP would need to see that, he said.


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