By DON STINE
Deal Lake will experience increased flooding and fish will be prevented from spawning under a plan being pursued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local officials and environmentalists said this week.
“The flume from the lake will be plugged up with sand and the only way to get water out of the lake will be by pumping it out- which is crazy,” said Joseph Pallotto president of the Asbury Park Fishing Club, the oldest such club in America.
A protest will be held at 5 p.m. Fri., March 21 at the Eighth Avenue jetty in Asbury Park in an attempt to stop some of the Army Corps proposals. Fishermen, environmentalists, the American Littoral Society, and property owners around Deal Lake are expected to attend.
Pallotto said a similar problem developed at the Deal Lake flume when the first federal beach replenishment project was done in the late 1990s. The project not only impeded the flow of water from Deal Lake into the Atlantic Ocean but also prevented spawning herring, shad, and white perch from entering the lake to breed.
“There was only a little stream of water coming out of the lake then,” he said.
Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. intervened during the first replenishment project and obtained $8 million federal grant to extend the flume.
But Pallotto said that it is not extended far enough and that the current beach replenishment project is clogging the flume again.
“There is a sand bar building up in front of the flume right now,” he said.
Army Corps also plans to notch all of the jetties from the Eighth Avenue jetty in Asbury Park north to the Elberon section of Long Branch. He said the plan will affect at least six jetties and the jetties in Bradley Beach, to the south, have already been notched.
“The Army Corps believes notching works to evenly distribute the sand but it doesn’t- it just allows sand to wash up to Sandy Hook due to the littoral drift and they will have to keep dredging Sandy Hook,” he said.
Pallone said on Wednesday that area officials, environmentalists and residents have a right to be concerned.
“Their concerns are very legitimate and need to be looked into and addressed. And I will do that over the next few weeks and months because I have similar concerns. I will follow up with these concerns to see if notching makes sense,” he said.
Pallone said that the Army Corps has suggested that certain jetties be notched.
“But we need to look at that to see if it is necessary or a good idea,” he said.
According to Pallone, the public comment period on the project ends on March 26 and the Army Corps will look at all of these comments.
As far as the flume outfall pipe filling with sand, that is always an ongoing concern.
“Obviously, we don’t want it to fill with sand,” he said.
Pallone said the Army Corps has informed him that the outfall pipe will be kept clear..
“But if it needs to be extended even further we will have to look into that and see what the Army Corps will do,” he said.
Pallotto said that ever since the first beach replenishment more and more sand has been building up in Deal Lake, with Superstorm Sandy adding an even larger amount.
“There is more sand now than ever. You could make an entire new beach with the sand that could be removed from the lake,” he said.
According to Pallotto, the sand in Deal Lake is clean and could be replaced on area beaches with no problem.
“They should put their money into dredging the lake rather than using it to notch the jetties,” he said.
And Pallotto said people living around Deal Lake should be particularly concerned.
“Flooding in the lake is not the fault of the Deal Lake Commission, it’s the fault of the Army Corps of Engineers,” he said.
Deal Lake Commission Chairman Don Brockel said that a primary goal of the commission is to see that the flume is free-flowing into the Atlantic Ocean without sand blockage.
“A free-flowing flume allows fish migration and provides us the ability to lower the lake prior and during storms to prevent flooding to seven communities,” he said.
And Brockel said it seems everything is going back to square one again.
“Basically we are in the same state of affairs as years ago,” he said.
The Deal Lake Commission is currently seeking $6.9 million in federal aid to clear Deal Lake of sand.
“Now we have another government agency planning on blowing sand toward Deal Lake, which will find its way back into the lake via air or water. This does not sound like a good use of tax dollars to me,” Brockel said.
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