Do you like charts and graphs… If so you need to meet John Kurzman who is posting his opinion on the Lake’s ability to meet the level necessary for enjoyment next summer.
Enclosed is a letter he sent to Lake Hopatcong Commission:
This is a communication to the Lake Hopatcong Commission and to the DEP, as requested at the September LHC meeting. Please distribute to the LHC Commissioners and Alternate commissioners.
This is to communicate the concern and suggestions for the recovery from the 5 foot drawdown being that:
- Normal drawdowns have gone from 30 inches to 26 inches to now 22 inches, but the plan, as currently written seems to indicate that the refill will stop at 30 inches from dam top and then wait until springtime to refill from 30inches down instead of trying to get to 26 inches or ideally 22 inches for the springtime refill. This puts the lake at a 4 inch disadvantage from past years, and an 8 inch disadvantage from recent years annual drawdown recoveries in the springtime.
- In past 5 foot drawdowns, a major claim was that the rising ice helped to rip the weeds out with the roots since the weeds are frozen into the ice. Also, as documented in the first page of the attached, you can see that 5 years ago, even when the ice was 14 inches thick, the USGS gauges show that the lake outflow was kept at 12cfs (minimum outflow) to allow the lake (and ice) to rise. Only when the lake was 30 inches below dam top did the outflow increase to hold the lake level, showing that rising ice (of even 14 inches) was most definitely allowed last time. Also, a check of the minutes of the LHC meetings will confirm that the DEP reported that there were no complaints of damage to structures from doing this. This most likely due to the fact that when the lake is down in the 60 inches to 30 inches range, the water/ice does not reach many of the same structures that are reached when the lake is more filled. It is still mud in many places, not water or ice. It is vital that this rising ice be allowed, or key months of the winter will be missed for refiling the lake, but the plan, as Written for the last drawdown, and this one, does not indicate this was allowed. This needs to be corrected, or at least ignored as it was last time. It should be noted that when the CAC met, the plan was to revisit the 5 year plans after the provisional changes to the annual plans were reviewed, as even those 12cfs and other plans were only a ‘test’. Unfortunately, later CAC meetings were told that the methodology was changed, and that the plan was locked down and could not be changed, and so key items were not updated, and even the annual plan is not really the approved plan, but something that was only to be a test. (which in fact has failed when you consider the severe falling of the lake level during the summer during ‘average’ years of rainfall, but that is a separate discussion).
- The 2nd page of the attachment shows how necessary statistically, it is to allow the lake to refill during the winter months. You cannot simply stop for ice and expect 40 to 60 inches of water in the springtime. We feel lucky if we get 26 inches, which is why we now only drain the lake 22 inches in normal years! We will miss the spring (and summer) by a longshot if we actually follow the current plan as described.
So this letter is to again ask that:
- The DEP not refill the lake only to 30 inches starting on December 15th, but refill the lake to at least 26 or even 22 inches below dam top, weather permitting.
- At a minimum, duplicate what was done 5 years ago, as documented, which is to at least allow the ice to rise to the 30 inch below dam level. At least that is known to now cause damage. That way we will only be 8 inches worse off than a normal year. (if ice interferes with reaching 26 or 22 inches below). The concern being that the DEP has said they will stop refilling if there is ice, so refill may stop 55 inches below dam top for instance, or whatever the winter months give us.
- Consider that although the drawdown is 5’, people’s repairs should start in the deepest areas and work their way up. It is not clear they need the entire 5’ drawdown the entire 6 weeks. Consideration should be made to allowing the lake to refill starting on December 1st, for at least up to the first 1 foot of refill (or any complaints). December is the wettest month statistically, for refill, (see page 2 of the attachment) and missing the key refill could be very damaging to the chances of refill before ice or drier times. If not done for this year, at least for future years. There should be a schedule of potential refill that could start sooner, as you don’t need the entire 5’ depth down the entire time, but build your foundation and work your way up.
- Consider that the 12cfs metric is set to make sure that the downstream fish do not get too warm and depleted of oxygen in warmer waters. That is not a threat in these colder months. Therefore, starting on the refill date, do not refill at 12cfs, but refill at 8cfs. That will allow the refill to proceed 1.2 inches more per month, which may not seem like much, but every little bit helps when you recognize that it is much better to beg for this now, in the winter, than argue about it in the spring or summer as has happened in the past. There is absolutely no environmental reason to NOT lower the outflow to 8cfs in the winter months, and in fact, USGS gauges show that 8cfs is even excessive compared to past years at that time, and lower amounts should be considered. I am just trying to ask for what doesn’t cause emotional responses downstream, even though again, there is no risk, even in the creek between Lake Hopatcong and Lake Musconetcong from going below 8cfs in these freezing months while the fish are dormant, oxygen usage is low, oxygen storage in the water is high, etc. But please, at least reduce to 8cfs, if not 4cfs for December 15th refill until warmer temperatures or higher lake levels are experienced.
- Without these considerations for recommendations 1-4 above, the lake has little likelihood of recovering from this 5 foot drawdown, and it really is not fair to the users of the lake to do that to the users or even the environment of the lake itself to not refill it. To not change the 5 foot refill to match the annual refill goal and to not allow the ice to rise as had been done in all prior 5 foot drawdowns really is putting the lake at a severe disadvantage from prior years.
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