Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ramapo River: Getting Back to Normal One Day at a Time

By Bill Pivetz

These early months of the winter season have been very stressful on the Ramapo River. With limited precipitation, the river struggled to stay at normal water levels. These numbers continued into the month of February. For most of the month, the river didn’t eclipse five feet in depth, even with the snowstorm.

However, that changed with the rainstorm that hovered over Mahwah earlier in the week. The river’s depth rose from 4.75 ft on Tuesday night to 6.8 ft early Thursday morning in Mahwah, according to the National Weather Service.

Despite the current rise, they predict that the level will be back at the five-foot mark by the weekend. This is an important benchmark as the river is a major source of drinking water for Mahwah, Oakland, Pompton Lakes and other towns in North Jersey.

In the Town of Ramapo just upstream from Mahwah, the river was as low as 3.2 feet early in the week. It rose up to a little over five feet Thursday morning. The change in levels is a concern for parts of southern New York. The Ramapo River Watershed, the smallest watershed in New York State, provides clean water for Rockland and south Orange County. If the water levels become too low, then the counties would have to tap into other watersheds in order to provide their citizens with the amount of water they need. 

Not only does climate change and global warming affect the amount of water able to be used by the homes in the area, but it affects the fishing in the area as well.

According to, more than 20,000 trout were released by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife to streams and ponds in 17 New Jersey counties. “Locally, on Oct. 12, the Wanaque River was stocked with 330 trout, and the Ramapo River was stocked with 890,” the news report stated. 

Trout Stocking Affected by Warmer Weather

For the second consecutive year, the fall trout stocking was pushed back to the second week of October. This is mostly due to weather conditions that resulted in high water temperatures and low stream flows. “Moving the start of fall stocking to the second week of October takes advantage of cooler temperatures, which benefit trout and minimizes the potential for last minute stocking schedule changes that impact anglers,” the report continued.

The ever-changing climate affects the Ramapo River in many different ways. From the water usage in homes to recreational use, a lot of lives can be impacted if the water levels aren’t at the right height. Although we can’t control when it rains or snows, we can control how much pollution we allow into the atmosphere which affects the rain, snow and temperature.

The Ramapo River is one of many rivers that provide water to homes, businesses, schools and many other places. A slight change in temperature or depth can affect a lot of different things and can put a lot of restrictions on water usage. The Ramapo River is a very sensitive body of water. It’s needs to be taken care of in order for it to continue doing what it does.

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