Thursday, March 12, 2009

An update on the Morris Canal

If you have read my previous blog this is just an update. I have emailed the Canal Society of NJ in regards to the problem and I just finished a phone call to environmental protection and they are now aware of the problem. Environmental gave me a phone number to call tomorrow morning and I will explain the issue further to a higher power. The man I talked with did agree with me 100% and said that it is a major issue that needs to be dealt with. I have a feeling that the issue will be resolved very soon, I hope so.

P.S. If we do succeed in our goal perhaps the state should restock the canal with aquatic life to give it a little head start? This ofcourse is a whole another issue that should be considered. More updates tomorrow after I make the phone call.


Darren Milliron said...

Press Release

The Borough of Stanhope has recently received information from an Environmental Consultant hired by the Borough that silt and sediment located in the Morris Canal along Main Street in Stanhope contains a low level of contamination that does not pose either an immediate health hazard to the public or an environmental risk. The Borough wishes to inform the public of how the Borough became aware of the contamination by this press release.

On August 15, 2007, a large underground drain pipe erupted in a municipally-owned parking lot adjacent to the Stanhope Fire House, causing a large sinkhole. The drainpipe conveyed water through the Old Morris Canal past several properties in the area of the Furnace Pond to the lower reaches of the canal. When the sinkhole originally occurred, it was believed that the drainpipe might belong to the State of New Jersey as the successor to the Morris Canal and Banking Company. However, a title search revealed that the pipe had actually been deeded to the Borough in 1966. The gate allowing water to flow from Lake Musconetcong into the canal was closed by the State Park at the request of the Borough. The sinkhole and the pipe were temporarily repaired, the canal was drained of water and has remained drained of water since that date due to concerns about the pipe’s integrity if filled with water.

The draining of the canal revealed a substantial amount of debris, both natural and manmade within the bed of the canal from Route 183 to its lower reaches. The Borough sought approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to clean the debris from the canal bed. In September 2007, a written request was sent by the Borough to NJDEP for a pre-application meeting concerning the cleaning of the debris from the canal.

From September through November 2007, representatives of the Borough and NJDEP corresponded with regard to permits that would be required of the Borough in order to clean out the canal. After receiving public comments on the canal, the Borough decided to explore a more ambitious project to both remediate and rehabilitate the canal. The revised project would include not only cleaning out all of the debris but also removing a substantial amount of silt that has accumulated in the bottom of the canal over many years to restore the depth of the canal to its historical level. The Borough Engineer prepared plans and specifications for such a project and submitted a joint application with the State Park to NJDEP for the necessary permit in April 2008 to allow the Borough to both clean and rehabilitate the canal. The Borough received the permit from NJDEP on August 12, 2008.

The Borough budgeted $50,000 for initial efforts in the canal restoration project in the FY 2009 budget. In February 2009, the Borough further applied to the NJDEP for a loan/grant request to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program to provide funding to repair the drainpipe which caused the initial problems. The Borough is hopeful of receiving a response in the near future from the State as to its loan/grant application as part of the effort to remove the sediment from the Morris Canal.

Darren Milliron said...

As part of the plan to undertake the restoration of the Canal and to remove the silt and sediment, the Borough was required to hire an Environmental Consultant to take samples of the sediment in the canal to confirm that the sediment could be disposed of as simple clean fill. Samples were taken from the canal in August 2009. The Borough’s Environmental Consultant submitted a written report to the Borough dated August 31, 2009 that a low level of contaminants was detected in several of the samples taken from the sediment in the canal bed. The contaminants detected were lead and organic compounds. Based upon the results, the Environmental Consultant’s opinion is that these contaminants were contributed from street runoff.

The contaminants are in a stable state, pose no immediate health hazard to the public nor any immediate environmental hazard either. However, the sediment containing the low level contaminants will need to be disposed of at a regulated disposal facility rather than as clean fill, which will substantially increase the cost of this portion of the canal’s rehabilitation. A final cost for the removal of the sediment will be determined upon an accurate measurement of the amount of sediment to be removed and obtaining prices from qualified disposal sites for the disposal of the sediment.

The Borough is committed to continuing to work on the rehabilitation of the canal in a fiscally responsible manner to restore the canal for the public’s use and enjoyment as soon as possible. As funding is acquired for the project, the Borough will proceed with both the repair of the drainpipe and the removal of the debris and silt from the canal to restore the canal for public recreational purposes.

Mayor Kuncken noted the Borough has spent $7,200.00 of the $50,000.00 budgeted on clean up efforts. Should the grant request to the NJDEP be funded it would make a substantial difference. The first step is to investigate what options are available and determine the best choice for the Borough. A time frame must be established and specific costs calculated. Mayor Kuncken will provide updates as available.

Darren Milliron said...

***I'm the public comment :)

After receiving public comments on the canal, the Borough decided to explore a more ambitious project to both remediate and rehabilitate the canal.