DEP considers reducing annual drawdown of Lake Hopatcong from 26 inches to 22 inches

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is looking to reduce the amount of drawdowns at Lake Hopatcong.

Near-drought conditions in New Jersey over the past two years have caused the water levels in the lake to be much lower than normal. 

The DEP is proposing a plan to reduce the annual drawdown from 26 inches to 22 inches. The agency also wishes to reduce the outflow of Lake Hopatcong in the spring.

Some lakefront business owners are optimistic about the new plan.

"It's been over 10 years we've been working with [the state], trying to get them to see the value of keeping the lake full or at least keeping it fuller," says Bridge Marina Owner Ray Fernandez. "It's great that they're finally changing the annual drawdown."

The water levels in Lake Hopatcong were so low last summer that the boating season had to be cut short. Fernandez says this proposal will make a massive difference.

"It'll give us at least 4 inches of water every year. Maybe as much as 6 or 8, which will greatly change our water levels," he says.

The drawdowns are done for maintenance reasons. The practice helps get rid of weeds and also protects docks from ice damage in the winter.

Lakefront residents say that ice damage cost over $10,000 to repair.

In addition to the annual drawdown, the lake is also brought down 60 inches every five years. Officials have not said if this practice will be changed.

If the plan passes, it would immediately go into effect for the November drawdown.

The DEP believes the new plan will keep both lakefront property owners and businesses happy.

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