HOWELL – Howell residents now have a new place to spend sunny, summer afternoons by the water.
Members of the Howell Township council, the town’s Lake Restoration and Wildlife Committee, and director of community development Jim Herrman cut the ribbon on the new and improved Aldrich Lake, reopening it for residents to enjoy year round.
Aldrich Lake has been undergoing construction for quite some time, the scope of work consisting of dredging the lake and building a brand new dock.
Construction began back in October of 2017 and was expected to be complete by March of 2018, according to Herrman. However, an intense winter with lots of rain and snow slowed the process. The date of completion wound up being June 25, 2018, with extensions granted by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
“Initial plans started in 2004; it was a long time coming, it was probably talked about for 20 years prior to that,” said Herrman.
Herrman noted that dredging work was actually begun on the lake back in the late 2000s; however, permitting issues put that to a halt.
In 2014, the township began reviewing all of the lakes in the town to see which most needed work. “We decided we needed to concentrate on Aldrich Lake,” he said.
Part of this decision was due to a study done by the Brick Municipal Utilities Authority, said Herrman.
This study found that the Metedeconk River, specifically the area downstream of Aldrich Lake, was the most contaminated with coliform, nitrogen, and phosphorus.
“All the runoff from Freewood Acres…comes into this lake,” he added, noting that this was a contributing factor to this contamination.
The township then combined the Brick MUA’s report with their research in an application to the NJDEP, which was approved.
In 2015, initial testing and work by T&M Associates found that the lake required nearly “57,000 yards of material to be removed from this 7 ¼ acre lake,” said Herrman.
From there, the project required sediment testing and environmental permitting, which are costly and time consuming endeavors, he said.
It was only by 2017 that the council authorized funding for the project, in the amount of $3.33 million for final engineering and construction. Going out to bid in September of 2017, the council chose Precise Construction of Howell to perform the work.
When the project began, 750 fish were taken out of the lake and relocated to the Manasquan Reservoir, according to Herrman. The fish will be restored at the end of August with fish from the Hackettstown Fish Hatchery.
“At the end of construction, we removed just over 50,000 cubic yards of material,” he said. Imagine a professional football field covered with 23 feet of material; this is the image that Herrman gives to describe the amount of material dredged from the lake.
With the lake restored, the township also went the extra mile to enhance recreation activities for residents by implementing a dock. Herrman noted that this addition is not only great for the 20 families that live around the Aldrich Lake area, but also the other 50,000 Howell residents.
The final budget for the lake and dock construction was approximately $2.4 million.
Although dredging and construction is complete and the lake is reopened, the project is not quite finished. Residents can expect to see the addition of trash receptacles, picnic tables, and park benches to the area.
“Were going to work with the Lake Restoration and Wildlife Committee to come up with a set of rules that we can all agree to,” he added. These rules will be labeled with a sign. Herrman also hopes to have a sign to designate what kinds of wildlife exist in and around the lake.
Further projects will include improvements to parking as well as a kayak launch at the lake.
The Aldrich Lake project hopes to win an award from the Municipal Engineers Society, said Herrman.