Possible draining of West Milford Lake upsets residents

Fears a dam will no longer hold back water from West Milford Lake are forcing the state Department of Environmental Protection to drain the body of water, despite the objections of residents.

The lake, visited by many seeking peace and quiet, is a location where geese and swan come to lay their eggs. The DEP is afraid the lake?s weakened dam is unable to hold off a major flood. The state fears if the dam collapses, water would wash away Marshall Hill Road and create the potential for loss of life.

Residents feel there has to be another way to prevent the dam from breaking. They say when the DEP lowered the lake a few years ago, it killed off hundreds of fish and created a horrendous smell. Some fear draining the lake will not only turn it into swampland, but they worry all of the animals in the lake will also die.

The now defunct West Milford Lake Association tried to raise money to build a better dam, but was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the town is looking at various options to fill the lake area after it is drained. It is considering a park or turning the property into wetlands. The DEP plans to drain the lake in the spring of 2008.

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for November 4.

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