Landing _ Ice safety, weed harvesting and water quality were among the items discussed at the monthly Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting on Monday, held at the Hopatcong State Park Administration Building.
The meeting started off with a discussion about ice safety, a topic in the news because of the death of two teenage boys at Budd Lake last week. Commissioner Rich Zoschak, representing Roxbury, mentioned that just recently, township police and fire department responded to an ice rescue incident in the Landing section of Lake Hopatcong.
The mention of the incident brought about a discussion by the commissioners on ice safety and what could be done to inform the public. Commissioner Dan McCarthy, representing Hopatcong, suggested that anyone venturing out onto the ice should be equipped with safety ice picks, which can be purchased at any place that sells fishing equipment. He also rattled off a list of common sense rules to follow. First, he said, tell someone. Check the ice using a spud bar starting at the shoreline and working out from there. Don’t let kids on the ice unsupervised. Carry a rope. Make note of open water.
A suggestion was made that in the future, the Commission would include in their calendar a reminder about ice safety tips sometime during November.
New business included a short report from Fred Lubnow, Director of Aquatics program at Princeton Hydro, who reported that the existing grant transfer from the Commission to Jefferson Twp. is stalled because of the need for the finalization of Attachment F. He also reported that the amount of phosphorous and plant bio mass removed from the lake doubled from 2011 to 2012 as a direct result of the weed harvest machines being in the water longer.
Steve Ellis, Northern Regional Supervisor of NJ State Parks, reported that the weed harvesting machines are at the Franklin facility and that the equipment is “50 per cent maintained at this point” and that the machines should be in the water by June.
Commissioner Kerry Kirk Pflugh, representing the DEP, reported that on January 5, the third and final phase of the fertilizer law, designed to reflect water quality concerns in New Jersey, went into effect. The law states that fertilizer products now sold in New Jersey contain zero phosphorous, twenty per cent slow release nitrogen and potassium. This law applies to residential turf only. Golf courses, startup lawns and agriculture are exempt. Pflugh believes the new law could be the “most strict in the nation.”
Pflugh also addressed current water levels of the lake and the relationship with current weather conditions. At this time, she said, in accordance with the Lake Hopatcong Water Level Management Plan, water will be released at the prescribed rate. If weather conditions continue to be dry and warm, and there is not a hard freeze, Pflugh said her department will look to raise the water level earlier in the spring.
The long awaited lakefront property owner survey postcards will hopefully be sent out next week said Pflugh. “The survey is specific to ice damage and repairs for lakefront properties and the results will be used to manage lake levels in the future,” said Pflugh. The survey is online but hard copies are available for homeowners who do not use a computer.
The Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for February 11.