Lake Hopatcong to Start Refilling Early

Lake Hopatcong to Start Refilling Early

Lake Hopatcong refilling to start early after mild weather

Posted: Feb 24, 2012 12:45 AM EST Updated: Feb 24, 2012 1:11 AM EST
Photo Photo by Daniel Freel/New Jersey Herald Birds feed along the shore of Lake Hopatcong Thursday. The lake will be refilled one month ahead of schedule.


HOPATCONG -- With signs of spring becoming more evident and only slim chances of New Jersey's largest fresh water lake freezing over, Hopatcong State Park has sealed off the Lake Hopatcong dam to refill the lake for summer recreational months.

Last week, the Citizens Advisory Committee, led by the state Department of Environmental Protection, met for the annual review of the Lake Hopatcong Water Level Management Plan. Because the lake is not currently frozen over, the committee, in agreement with Hopatcong State Park maintenance staff, recommended to Amy Cradic, the DEP assistant commissioner of natural and historic resources, to refill Lake Hopatcong one month ahead of schedule. With Cradic's approval, the dam gates were closed Saturday.

There's no ice, and looking at the forecast, (it appears the weather) would remain mild enough so that it won't freeze. At this point the lake hasn't frozen over this winter at all, said Donna Macalle-Holly, Lake Hopatcong Commission administrator.

Macalle-Holly said she lives on a shallow end of the lake, and while it's occasionally iced over, it hasn't thickened into anything significant. Macalle-Holly said it is unlikely the lake will freeze over in the next few months.

The timing of the refill is generally determined by the superintendent of Hopatcong State Park, Helen Maurella, who sits on the Citizens Advisory Committee. On March 1, the superintendent begins monitoring ice conditions on the lake, and refilling commences once the condition of the ice has sufficiently softened to reduce concern over ice damage to property.

When ice conditions are deemed safe, the Lake Hopatcong Commission and the Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board are notified, and all Lake Hopatcong dam gates are closed except as necessary to maintain the mandated passing flow of 12 cubic feet per second.

In past years, when you start to bring the lake up, and you have a lot of ice on the lake, and there are strong winds, the ice breaks away, Macalle Holly said. Then there's an issue of ice damage. With no ice this year, I don't foresee that being a problem.

It's only one month ahead of schedule, Macalle-Holly said.

As of Saturday, water levels hovered at 6.9 feet. By Thursday, they had risen slightly to 6.93 feet. Lake levels will be allowed to rise about 2 feet. Once replenished, lake levels will be maintained at around 9 feet and shall not exceed 91/2 feet.

Macalle-Holly said she's spotted people already launching their boats.

I guess people are a little antsy because the weather's so nice, she said.

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Phone: 201-669-7520
Dated: February 25th 2012
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