Home > Uncategorized > US EPA Inquiry Prompts DEP Enforcement To Shut Down Illegal Dredging Of Wanaque River in Pompton Lakes

US EPA Inquiry Prompts DEP Enforcement To Shut Down Illegal Dredging Of Wanaque River in Pompton Lakes

Dredged Sediments Disposed Along Hershfield Park River Banks

Pompton Lakes Ordered to Stop Un-permitted Dredging & Disposal

Wanaque River along Hershfield Park, Pomtpon Lakes NJ (Source: Ed Meakem)

Wanaque River along Hershfield Park, Pomtpon Lakes NJ (Source: Ed Meakem)

They have been mutilating acres and acres of T&E habitat, dredging illegally  – all in total violation of their permit. ~~~ Ross Kushner, Pequannock River Coalition

[Updates below]

Ed Meakem, my friend and former Councilman in Pompton Lakes, sent me some amazing photos on Tuesday of what looked like a mismanaged or illegal dredging and disposal operation in the Wanaque River and along the banks in Hershfield Park (see above and below).

It reminded me of the Bull’s Islands fiasco along the Delaware River a few years back.

Source: Ed Meakem

Source: Ed Meakem

So I immediately referred the matter to US EPA Region 2 and requested that they conduct an inspection and take appropriate enforcement action.

I was very disturbed by EPA’s initial rapid reply  later that afternoon of Oct. 7 – EPA wrote:

On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs) from the Superfund Program in Edison, NJ called the Borough of Pompton Lakes and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) regarding the excavating in the Lake in Hershfield Park.

Mr. Kevin Boyle, Pompton Lakes Borough Administrator, explained to the OSC that the dredging work is part of a river control project for the Wanaque River in conjunction with the NJDEP under a $250,000 NJDEP grant.  The project encompasses Pompton Lakes, Riverdale and Pequannock Townships, and Pompton Lakes is the lead agency for the project.

A NJDEP permit for the work has been granted (NJDEP is the permit holder) and the NJDEP contacts are John Moyle and John Ritchey with the Bureau of Dam Safety and Flood Control.  NJDEP had an inspector at the Site last week to check that proper sediment control measures are being taken and ensure the protection of the endangered species and the ecosystem.

Mr. Boyle also informed the OSC that all information regarding this project is public and that a public meeting had been held.  The project was approved by the Towns involved.  Mr. Boyle invited anyone interested about the project to call him at 973-835-0143 x239 (or the Borough Engineer) for more information.

So I immediately challenged EPA’s handing of the matter – I wrote:

Thanks for your response George, but let me clarify this:

Just because the project has been issued an NJDEP permit, you will not take followup site inspection and enforcement action?

Am I getting this right?

You saw those photos – how could that dredging and disposal be in compliance with a NPDES permit?

And if it were, how could that permit possibly be legally valid?

BTW, that is not a lake, but a portion of the Wanaque River. Please advise.

But I am pleased now to note that, last night, EPA advised that their initial inquiry relied on inaccurate information, and that in fact, the dredging and disposal operation are not permitted by DEP. EPA wrote:

Good Evening Mr. Wolfe,

Following your complaint on the afternoon of October 7, the EPA forwarded your complaint concerning dredging work in the Pequannock River in Pompton Lakes, NJ, to the NJDEP.  The NJDEP indicated to the EPA that Pompton Lakes believed they were working under a permit issued by NJDEP which my response to you below was based on.

Late this afternoon we were informed that while Pompton Lakes is working in the same general area, the NJDEP does not believe that this particular location was approved for dredging.  The NJDEP Division of Land Use Regulation is in the process of reviewing the permit file.  In the meantime, Pompton Lakes has instructed its contractor to stop work and stabilize the area.  It is EPA’s understanding that a meeting will be held shortly between Pompton Lakes and the NJDEP permitting group to discuss the need for this activity, and if necessary, permit options.

Have a nice evening,


We will try to get more information on the permit and enforcement issues and justifications for this project.

We are particularly interested in whether samples were taken of the dredged sediments and what the results of that sampling are.

But in the meantime, at a minimum, it looks like Pompton Lakes Borough Administrator, the contractor, and DEP have some explaining to do.

Let’s hope that the media holds them accountable.

[Update #1: Watch the Pompton Lakes Boro engineer spin in response to residents’ questions. Note how his story conflicts with EPA’s above.]

[Update #2 -10/13/14 – Ross Kushner of the Pequannock River Coalition has been working on this for some time. Ross sent me this photo and note:

Source: Ros Kusher, PRC - date and location unknown

Source: Ross Kusher, PRC – date and location unknown


I have been complaining about Pompton Lake’s river work for over a year. They have been mutilating acres and acres of T&E habitat, dredging illegally  – all in total violation of their permit.

The DEP flat out refuses to do anything about it (see email below).  Worse, the NJ environmental community has turned a blind eye to it, despite my repeated requests for help. Like the Ringwood superfund problems, nobody but me seems to give a crap. VERY frustrating.

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