SANDY CUTS WRECK POND RED TAPE LIKE BUTTER

Coastal Lakes / News / River Herring
SANDY CUTS WRECK POND RED TAPE LIKE BUTTER
Bruce Friedman of NJ DEP with concerned residents
ACN attended the meeting of the Wreck Pond Regional regional stormwater management plan (RSWMP)
last Monday late afternoon. It was a packed house and many attendees were local residents that were flooded out during this storm, as well as last years Irene storm. Just two weeks after super storm Sandy ripped a gaping hole out of the lakes dam, this emergency meeting was called. Sandy breached the dam where the pond meets the beach on the border between the towns of Spring Lake and Sea Girt. In addition to allowing the flooded neighborhoods to drain quickly during and right after the storm, this new inlet is currently allowing a tidal exchange to occur in a place that nature has been prevented from doing so since the 1930’s.
The New Pipe- Before Sandy
Instead of simply giving the green light to a bulldozer to backfill the dam and seal the pond back up, earlier the same day, it seems that a multitude of organizations were called in to discuss what should be done about the newly created inlet in front of the pond?. At the end of the meeting they all collectively decided that the breach should be left as Sandy left it and in hindsight, this event was truly a godsend to all the nearby residents.  Recent Asbury Park Press article and video of the spot:
http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012311010077&nclick_check=1
Before Sandy removed the Sand to Left of Gate
I am completely intrigued that right before our eyes, we have the rare opportunity to witness the way things were back at the turn of the century. Sure, Wreck pond is a far cry from a free flowing tidal pool and stream that so many marine species used to called home, but this is as close as were gonna get. In my mind, this isn’t only about this location, but a great example of how all of the other coastal ponds were in the past as well. A complete collection of what could be little seaside jewels are all dammed up, like Lake Takanassee in Long Branch, Deal Lake in Asbury Park and others from Sandy Hook on south. Collectively, all of these ponds have been bulkheaded, ignored and left to sit to appear artificially scenic, but upon closer inspection are terribly polluted, stagnant and devoid of life. 
Each one of these lakes flooded over its banks and into the surrounding residential neighborhoods, This is all about to change and we can thank Sandy for it. Unfortunately, it takes a Kick Ass storm named Sandy to say enough is enough, the writing is on the wall and we need to prepare for the worse.Now, because of this breech, the engineering answers that are used to remediate this area is surely going to be a case study that could be replicated over and over.
Before Sandy
During the meeting, it was apparent that this Sandy Storm was very different than the others that have affected this area. The other storms were fresh water, rain related events whereas this one was all salt water. One gentleman said that at high tide 9:00 pm that fateful Monday night, he was in his house, which sits five and half blocks away from the beach, he had “waterfront property” complete with waves and a wall of water moving down the street in front of his house.
After Sandy                                            Photo by John Costello
Questions during the meeting ranged from “if we leave it like this, how will the water quality at the beach be during the summer” to ” is the beach sand polluted”?
But everyone in the room agreed this nature made opening was truly a godsend as they recalled the other storms when the water lingered and couldn’t flow fast enough back into the sea.
After Sandy                                            Photo By John Costello
One of the methods that was discussed was the addition of a living shoreline, a 6 foot gradually sloped berm needs to be completed around the other end of the lake to enable the pond to hold more storm water runoff.
This is all about runoff, and the pollutants that are contained in it. Beach closures in Spring lake are commonplace after each rain event in the summer. Unfortunately, Surfers are exposed to the discharge as they are drawn to the big waves that come with these storms. Locals blame this on the geese and other waterfowl creating an E-Coli effluent discharge out of the end of the pond. Canada Geese, Swan and ducks are a contributing factor and make for an easy, tangible target.
When it comes to E-coli, I am wondering whether there is a leaky old sewer main buried beneath these multi million dollar homes that leaks like a sieve when it rains. Thats when the nasty human bacteria gets carried into Wreck pond and flows out into the swimming zone. There was barely a mention of this at the meeting other than replanting with special vegetation that won’t attract the waterfowl.
After Sandy                                            Photo By John Costello

Surf fisherman’s dream, Wreck pond back in the relatively recent days before the 200 foot long ill conceived pipe was installed, was a striped bass hotspot. These bass were drawn to this spot because the river herring and other forage species migrated into and out of Wreck pond. This is where this gets really exciting. If this new Wreck Pond inlet is left open, this coming spring could be the first time in awhile that the alewife and blue back herring get to migrate upstream and work back to the pool at the Old Mill Inn and spawn like they used to.
Pool at the Old Mill Inn
This is happening at a time when River herring populations are at an all time low and need all the help they can get. Access to fresh water spawning grounds this close to the ocean is rare and the herring will certainly take advantage of it. We don’t really know if the upper waters are in good enough shape so that they will spawn, but maybe a whole winter of tidal flushing of the pond will resuscitate things enough for a successful spawn. Currently, there is a state wide moratorium on catching river herring so using these is forbidden. In the “old days”, you could catch a river herring on one side of the pipe, put it on a hook, let it swim off the other side of the pipe and whammo… fish on!  Looking forward to spring of 2013!
Keeping you informed. Join Us!?
 
Capt. Paul Eidman
Capt. Paul Eidman


Reel Therapy Fly/light tackle fishing guide/Marine conservation advocate in the Sandy Hook NJ Area. Founder of Anglers Conservation Network and Menhaden Defenders.