Story by A.J. Arias
Greenwood Lake Commissioner Eric Hastings of New Jersey shouted out, “this is an emergency,” at the Greenwood Lake Commission meeting on Wed., Oct. 24. Hastings said that the muck issues near the South Shore Marina, and from the bridge to Brown’s Point in Belcher’s Creek, as well as other areas of the lake, that could lead to someone’s death.
Hastings said that the muck, which is combination of organic material that accumulates from runoff containing fertilizers, leaves, grass clippings, and animal waste that can act as a quick sand, has already caused major issues for several people he knows trapping them at waist level.
Two commissioners have both been stuck in the muck. New Jersey Co-Chair Paul Zarrillo was caught in the muck behind his house and needed a neighbor to get him out and Commissioner Jonathan Brett was buried above his head by muck and was saved with just a hand free to be grabbed.
Both Hastings and Brett had testimonials of children getting caught in the muck who were saved by quick acting guardians and friends.
Hastings has made a call for governing bodies around the lake to change the laws to allow for residents to come in and use machines to remove the muck. Currently, residents are allowed to use their hands and shovels to remove it but Hastings said the issue is far greater than what can be undone by human hands.
Commissioner Clint Smith who represents the New Jersey Governor said that the issue is under control. Hastings said that more people need to know about it including the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Conservation.
New Jersey Co-Chair Paul Zarrillo said that the Commission will write a letter to all boards who have authority on the matter.
Concerning E. Coli Levels Continue to be Found Near Belcher’s Creek
Montclair State University performed an emergency study, as funded by the Greenwood Lake Bi-State Commission, on the New Jersey side of the lake from Aug. 14 through Aug. 29. The study found that E. Coli levels exceeded the recommended threshold of 235/100mL with a reading on Aug. 22 of 650/100mL.
Additionally, the study found issues with the dissolved oxygen levels and pH levels in the same area. A reading on Aug. 14 found that the dissolved oxygen levels were at 4.19mg/L, far beneath the suggested threshold of 5mg/L.
The pH levels were the most concerning find of the study. A healthy lake has pH levels between 6.5 and 8.5; the study found readings on Aug. 28 in several areas of the New Jersey end of the lake to be between 8.56 and a very concerning 9.17. The only area of the lake without an issue was ironically Belcher’s Creek.
The study’s conclusion is that the Belcher’s Creek area near Brown’s Point is not suitable for primary contact recreation due to its high E. Coli levels.
The study found readings on certain days that were normal but with such concerning numbers recorded more studies are needed to find out the root problem of Belcher’s Creek.
In order to perform more studies the Greenwood Lake Commission calls upon other governing bodies to assist them with grants and manpower to solve this concerning issue.
The Greenwood Lake Bi-State Commission will next meet on Wed., Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. in the West Milford Library, located at 1470 Union Valley Rd. in West Milford, NJ.