The Deal Lake Commission has teamed up with the The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection [NJDEP] to request $6.9 million in federal assistance to restore the eastern end of Deal Lake that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, according to a news release from the Deal Lake Commission.
The NJDEP will give the 10 percent of matching funds required for the proposed project if the federal government OKs the Sandy funding, the release states.
Deal Lake is Monmouth County’s largest lake and the largest of New Jersey’s coastal lakes, and the seventh largest in the state. It encompasses 155 acres over 27 miles of shoreline along the borders of Asbury Park, Allenhurst, Deal, Interlaken, Lock Arbor, Neptune City and Ocean Township.
Comparing data from the Deal Lake Master Plan dated March of 2010 that showed the depth at various points throughout the lake with a recent depth study conducted in October by Steven J. Souza, president of Princeton Hydro and the commission’s environmental consultant, it was determined an estimated 170,000 cubic yards of “dredgable” sand and sediment is now present in the lake, as well as massive debris from the tidal surge that accompanied Hurricane Sandy, according to a letter submitted to the NJDEP from the commission. Deal Lake Commission Engineer Peter Avakian did the comparison.
The storm is also responsible for uprooting numerous trees from the shoreline that were then carried into “deeper, open-water areas,” not only adding to the volume of submerged debris, but causing destabilization of the shoreline and erosion that continues today, the letter states.
Seawalls and bulkheads that line the eastern most portion of the lake’s main body also incurred damage from Sandy, while upland, flooding is heightened by sediment and sand that settled next to, or in front of, storm water outfalls, according to the letter.
The commission has organized several volunteer-based lake cleanup efforts since the storm, and employees from local public works departments have assisted with their own efforts, still, “far more debris” lies at the bottom of the lake, the letter reads.
Since February, the Deal Lake Commission worked closely with the NJDEP to formulate a plan to restore Deal Lake to pre-Sandy conditions, according to the release.
“The removal of this material is needed to safeguard lives and property from the imminent hazards of flooding and erosion,” the release states. “It also creates navigation and recreational boating hazards, impedes flow and circulation within the lake and impacts littoral habitats.”
Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini gave their support to the effort to secure a promise of funding from the NJDEP, along with Angelini’s daughter, Toni Marie Angelini, the director of the Governor’s regional Sandy office, who assisted the commission in navigating their way to the “right folks to hear our story,” the release states. We are a long way from approval, but it’s a big step in the right direction to restore the eastern end of Deal Lake from the wrath of Sandy.”
“The biggest thing was to get the NJDEP to help, to say, ‘Hey, we are going to be a part of your team’,” said Don Brockel, chairman of the Deal Lake Commission. “We think we’re going to get something, but we may not get the full amount. I believe we will get something.”
Brokel, who grew up in the Deal Lake Watershed and learned how to swim in Deal Lake, hopes to hear some preliminary answers in January as to whether the commission will receive a federal Sandy aid package for the massive cleanup and dredging effort, but even if the commission is turned down, they will not cease efforts to secure the funds, he said.
“We’ll try again — with other proposals and other grant money,” he said. “We can’t give up.”
[Photo at right: A damaged potion of the retaining wall on the Loch Arbor border of Deal Lake. Photo provided by the Deal Lake Commission.]