The Lake Hopatcong Commission strongly urges all lakefront homeowners to safely operate their ice-retardant systems during the winter season. Improper use of these systems, more commonly referred to as ice eaters, can cause hazardous conditions on the ice during winter recreational use. The use of ice retardant systems on Lake Hopatcong is regulated through municipal ordinances in the Boroughs of Hopatcong and Mount Arlington and the Township of Jefferson.
When operated correctly, ice retardant systems can effectively protect your lakefront property without causing excessively large unfrozen areas on the lake away from the shoreline. To operate your ice retardant system properly to prevent a safety hazard, connect it to a thermostat and timer and do not operate it for more than four hours a day. The device should be pointed in the correct position based on manufacturer’s directions which is typically upwards in a vertical position. Systems with a timer and thermostat will limit the hours of daily use while protecting your property and save money on the electrical costs. Stop using ice eaters before the spring ice melt. During freezing temperatures, these operating procedures will allow the lake to stay frozen in lake areas away from your property and will protect the public's safety.
In Hopatcong, Jefferson and Mount Arlington, municipal ordinances require that all ice-retardant systems be marked with an appropriate sign specifying "Danger, Thin Ice.” The affected area of ice created by the ice-retardant system should not extend more than 25 feet into the lake beyond the structure or more than 25 feet, measured along the shoreline, from the protected structure.
According to Russell Felter, Commission Chairman and Mayor of Jefferson Township, “If someone sees a large area of open water when the lake is frozen over, which could possibly be caused by improper operation of an ice eater, it may be that the individual is unaware of the ordinance that regulates its use. Take the neighborly approach and let the property owner know about the ordinance. If the system’s operation continues to be in non-compliance with the ordinance, then the Municipal Construction Official should be contacted.” The ordinances are available in the Codebook on the municipal websites or at www.lakehopatcong.org.
An ice-retardant system is a mechanical device or a series of mechanical devices designed to retard or prevent the formation of ice in or around lake front structures. These devices utilize as their mode of operation, one or more of the following mechanisms: pumped air, artificial water turbulence, the addition of heat to the water body, or other mechanism which impedes or prevents the formation of ice on the lake surface. Around Lake Hopatcong, these devices are commonly referred to as an "ice eater" which refers to a dock de-icer that uses an electric motor and prop to pull warmer water from the depth and direct it towards the surface.
The Lake Hopatcong Commission is a quasi-independent New Jersey State Commission founded in 2001 to protect the natural resources of the State’s largest lake.
Lake Hopatcong is a 9-mile-long lake in the northwest part of New Jersey on the borders of Sussex and Morris Counties. The 2658-acre lake with nearly 40 miles of shoreline is a major recreational center and one of the best freshwater fishing locations on the East Coast. The lake is also an emergency source of drinking water during declared drought emergencies.