A window of opportunity opens for Jersey’s Coastal Lakes
I attended a press conference held this afternoon by NJ state Senator Sean Kean to announce efforts to include restoration of our coastal lakes within the scope of work to be done for beach restoration and post Sandy shoreline mitigation.
I have been working with the Coastal Lakes coalition for a couple of years at a normal pace meeting, planning and sharing ideas. Then Superstorm Sandy hit and drew immediate attention to the 15 or so coastal lakes that overflowed with stormwater and into surrounding neighborhoods. Our Coastal lakes became an overnight nightmare situation, as well as an ideal opportunity to get some well needed funding and work done. Many think that it was just the beachfront homes that took a direct hit. A few blocks in, it was another story. Just ask anybody that lives near one of the lakes in Belmar, Point Pleasant, Avon and others. Hundreds of residents took several feet of lake water through the front doors of their homes.
Collectively, all of these lakes have silted in, stagnated and turned into mid summer green nastyness. Sad to say that right under our noses, they have become manicured and bulkheaded drainage pits for street sewer lines to run into and then dump the lakes non source point pollution cocktail directly into the bathing areas on our beachfront.
Sen. Kean made the point that over the past 50 or so years, the population has tripled in our area and we have paved over and built up all of the surrounding lands, and this in turn has led us down this path. Tim Dillingham of the American Littoral society said “The small window of opportunity is here NOW”. My takeaway was we are talking millions of dollars here folks, and it will be flowing into our area by the truckload,however, its going to be up to all of us to lobby our elected officials and make sure that the entire sum doesn’t all get used for beach replenishment alone. There is way to much work that needs to be done, on the areas adjacent to the beach as well as the lakes themselves and on the headwaters where present.
Each one of the 15 plus lakes has its own set of unique problems, but almost all of them share the two major issues. 1)They have silted in and become shallow. 2) The infrastructure where the lakes meet the beach is antiquated and in dire need of resiliant improvements and drastic change. Two of the lakes, as previously blogged about, Lake Takanassee and Wreck pond actually had these structures ripped open and are now flowing directly into the sea.This has never, ever happened here before. Hate to use this burned out phrase, but welcome to the “new normal”.
Since we were in Avon, there was quite a bit of discussion about Sylvan lake which caused significant damage to the surrounding area during both Irene and Sandy storms. A big old gate valve and a pipe out to the sea is present at the end of Sylvan, but this as was the case with many others, was simply not enough to allow the thousands of gallons of water to exit to the sea.
Of course I care about all the pollution, flooding and controlling stormwater runoff but I attend these meetings because of the FISH. Several of these lakes are historic river herring migration paths and it is imperative that these forage fish be considered when the funds are applied. Making sure that fish ladders and improvements upstream are included in the funding package is imperative.Make no mistake, a robust river herring population swimming in and out of these watersheds will have a direct positive impact on our local species, especially the Striped Bass.
These prized gamefish are drawn to herring runs like a magnet. Not too long ago, surf anglers were able to catch a herring at the lake, put it in a bucket, carry it down to the beach and liveline it out and catch a monster striped bass. We have an opportunity right now to make this happen once again, the way it should be. This is a no brainer and a real a win win for all, fisherman, the ecosystem and the local merchants. Each county and the state of New Jersey must wake up and recognize that surf fishermen are part of the very fabric and history that makes up coastal NJ. There are literally hundreds of thousands of dedicated surf fishermen that utilize our beachfronts to bring serious on and off season revenue to our coastal merchants. The window is open people, its up to us to make our voices heard!
Make your voice heard & become a steward of the waters you fish!