JEFFERSON – Bridge Marina owner Ray Fernandez confirmed that he has filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Environmental Protection and Hopatcong State Park to stop the impending 60-inch drawdown of Lake Hopatcong. The drawdown is scheduled to begin September 22.
Fernandez is confident the suit will stop the drawdown because the law is on his side.
“I know this is right, this is the right thing to do,” said Fernandez early Wednesday morning, citing existing New Jersey state statutes.
The five-year 60-inch drawdown is part of the DEP water management plan for Lake Hopatcong. According to the plan, the drawdown is needed, in part, to help lakefront property owners repair bulkheads and docks.
Fernandez estimates that out of the 1800 lakefront property owners only about 300 might be doing work on their bulkheads or docks this fall. But, he said, the lake is not only about lakefront property owners, of which he is one. Fernandez said he understands that by lowering the water level, repairing bulkheads is easier and less expensive.
“I can’t expect everyone else to subsidize my lakefront property and that’s what’s happening. That’s just not fair.”
“This lake is for everyone and I think that’s what is forgotten. It’s not fair that the lake is drawn down for just a few people,” he said.
Fernandez and a group of local business owners filed a similar suit in 2009. That suit was settled out of court.
This suit is scheduled to be heard Thursday, September 19.