>I was glad to hear after last week’s Middletown Township Workshop meeting that nearly $2.7M maybe freed up soon by the state, for the long talked about Shadow Lake dredging project.
Officials ran into a project roadblock when the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) made it clear that, when removed, any dredge spoils gleaned from the lake would have to be transported to a safe, licensed off-site location, dried out and then taken to a legal dumping ground, Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore said.
Township Attorney Brian Nelson had said that where the township had no luck with the last administration’s state DEP officials, the new DEP principals seem more receptive. The township governing body is all-Republican, as is the Christie-appointed administration.
“We can’t do anything without permits,” he had said a couple of months ago at a Township Committee meeting. “But the DEP is working with us much better than it formerly did. Before it was clear they were not giving us permits.”
Now, knowing that the funds are being secured, Mayor Fiore said that the next step would be to go out to bid for the project.
“Thanks to the efforts of Senator Kyrillos the residents of the communities surrounding Shadow Lake can rest easier knowing that a project more than a decade in the making is nearing reality,” said Fiore. “In addition to the senator’s efforts in helping secure financing for this project, he has assisted the township with the DEP to find a qualified site outside of Middletown for disposal of the dredge spoils.”
It wasn’t Democrats that said this project was going to be an easy slam dunk just before the 2007 election and how it wasn’t going to cost residents a single dime (but proposed bonding for it) because local college students would perform surveys of the lake and other services for the township for free. And that the rest of the cost for the dredging would come from grants or planned to have the arsenic, heavy metal and carcinogenic contaminated spoils buried within Stephenson Park without proper permits from the NJ DEP. It was Gerry Scharfenberger and the rest of the Middletown Republicans who were attempting to secure last minute vote from residents who live around Shadow Lake by proposing such a plan.
Coming from someone who is an environmental professional who grew up on Shadow Lake and lived there for 22 years and still fish it weekly, I can tell you this issue has been twisted and misused by various media groups as well as private landowners on the lake . The lake has become naturally shallower in some areas which is normal succession for a man-made lake. The problem of increased vegetation is in large part not due to the depth of the lake. The lake is surrounded by residential development and Shadow Lake Village all of which contribute tremendous amounts of nutrient runoff to the lake in the way of fertilizers etc. The lake also sits in an area that was all farmland until the middle part of the 20th century. The groundwater may still be pumping nutrients from the historic farms into the lake contributing to the eutrophic environment. This is very similar to what is happening on a much larger scale in Barnegat Bay. The issue of depth of the lake and water quality/aquatic vegetation are two separate issues that have been blurred. If the goal is to make the lake deeper than I agree dredging is the only option. If the issue as they have proclaimed is to decrease the aquatic vegetation then dredging is not a cost-effective or ecologically sound solution. Green stormwater infrastructure and practices must be instituted to prevent the runoff that is making the lake an overly enriched ecosystem. State the goals clearly before dumping 4mil into a project.