Saturday, March 7, 2015

Water Pollution is a Problem Even on a Small Scale

By Erik Lipkin

Stop me if this sounds familiar: a major chemical company site caused pollution to nearby water supplies such as lakes, rivers, and streams.  That is exactly what happened with the DuPont Chemical Company and the Pompton Lakes ground water.  Of course, the company does its best to deny any wrongdoing while local activists and townspeople try to coerce that company into some sort of confession.  That admission of guilt often doesn’t come, and if it comes at all it is usually only after years of the company dragging its feet.

However, the problem of contamination from a neglectful or uncaring company doesn’t always involve major corporations the size of DuPont.  It can also happen locally on a much smaller scale.  Such is the case with Lake George, located in Schooley’s Mountain Park in Morris County, New Jersey.

Lake George is a very small lake that provides an abundance of activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing.  The area also has numerous hiking trails, one of which is the Falling Waters Trail that parallels Electric Brook.  A short climb down from the Falling Waters Trail will bring hikers to the beautiful Electric Brook Falls.  At the base of the falls there is a swimming hole that offers weary hikers a great place to strip down and cool off before they head home, or at least it used to.  Lake George, which feeds into the Electric Brook and the swimming hole at the base of the falls, is no longer in use.  The lake used to have a floating bridge, paddle boats, and a walk in beach perfect for swimmers or sun bathers.  It also had a healthy population of largemouth bass, one of the most popular game fish in the United States.

Things at Lake George look very different than they used to only a few years ago.  Because of continued contamination from a nearby sewage plant, the lake has been shut down.  The floating bridge has been dismantled and there is a temporary construction fence separating the beach from the water.  Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Lake George now is its lack of largemouth bass.  As recently as 2012 fishermen could look into the water and see it teeming with plenty of bass to satisfy their fishing needs, but now those fish are few and far between.  And as far as cooling off in the waters beneath the Electric Brook Falls, that is not recommended, unless you don’t mind wading in waters contaminated with sewage runoff.

The lack of respect for the lake, along with the hikers, fishermen, and outdoor lovers who often us it, is disgusting.  Perhaps because Schooley’s Mountain Park isn’t one of the biggest or most popular parks it didn’t garner much attention when Lake George was shut down, but as many people are fond of saying, size doesn’t matter.  If pollution and contamination is happening to a lake the size of Lake George in Morris County or the much larger and well known Lake George in Upstate New York’s Adirondack Park it needs to be stopped.

People cannot accept any body of water being polluted.  Without water, life as we know it ceases to exist, yet we continue to pollute it.  In today’s world, wars are fought over control of oil supplies but in the not so distant future it would not be ridiculous to think that wars will be waged over clean water supplies, because clean water is becoming increasingly more difficult to find.  The DuPont contamination of the Pompton Lakes ground water, as well as the contamination suffered by Lake George should be a warning to everyone that we need to do everything we can to protect our water sources before they are too far gone to save.


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