Crest officials look into Sunset Lake water level problems

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File photo by Jen Marra/Sunset Lake is the venue for Hydrofest this weekend, but some locals are worried the lake is becoming shallower. File photo by Jen Marra/Sunset Lake is the venue for Hydrofest this weekend, but some locals are worried the lake is becoming shallower. WILDWOOD CREST— Sunset Lake, which is a prime spot for jet skiers and boaters throughout the summer, may be starting to fill in, according to some locals.

Fred Miller, a borough resident, said that he grew up on Sunset Lake. He operates one of the patrol boats on the lake during Hydrofest, an annual boating event, and is involved with the Wildwood Crest Yacht Club.

During last Wednesday’s meeting, he told commissioners that the lake may be getting shallower.

“A lot of areas that used to be navigable are no longer navigable,” he said. Particularly, boaters haven’t been traveling out during low tide, because they may hit bottom at the middle of the lake. Miller said that around the shores of the lake, however, the waters’ depth has remained the same.

“There was a huge difference after Hurricane Sandy,” Miller said.  “We can’t even go across the lake without hitting bottom.”

Miller said that he and other residents would be interested in helping to get the ball rolling on fixing the issue. 

“It’s only going to get worse,” he said. “We want to keep the lake what it was always there for.”

Commissioners said that this was the first they had heard about some areas of the lake filling in, but said they would start to look for a solution.

Most of the lake actually sits in Lower Township, Mayor Carl Groon said, so the first matter would be to determine what entity has jurisdiction over Sunset Lake.

It may also be the responsibility of the state, he said.

“We have no answers,” Groon said. “No matter what, we’re going to have to have information, and that’s where we’re going to start.”

If it turns out that the lake is filling in, Sunset Lake may need to be dredged out. While dredging projects are sometimes completed on beaches to replenish sand that has been lost due to erosion or storms, a similar method is used to remove sediment from the bottom of lakes and rivers. The gathered sediments are then moved to different location to help keep the waterway navigable.

Groon said that with any dredging project, one of the most difficult aspects is determining where to put those dredge spoils once the project is completed.

“We’re going to have to figure out the best course of action,” he said.

Commissioner Don Cabrera echoed those statements Tuesday when asked about the lake becoming shallower. He said that some charter boats and businesses use slips on Sunset Lake, and he was surprised that no owners had approached commissioners with the issue until now.

“Our concern is for our businesses,” he said. “I think it’s good for us to at least to look into it.”

Cabrera added that the borough was already looking into possibly dredging out other areas of the bay on the west end of the Crest, particularly near Park Avenue. Since Hurricane Sandy, Cabrera said that the borough’s engineers had indicated that those areas had been becoming shallower, and may need to be dredged out. That project, though, could be financed with some FEMA funds, he said.

“The west side is getting shallower and dredging may need to be done down the road,” Cabrera said.

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