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Camden County’s Largest Park Project: Newton Lake Dredging and Stormwater Battle

Camden County's Largest Park Project: Newton Lake Dredging and Stormwater Battle

Posted on March 6, 2024

Camden County embarked on an ambitious project to rejuvenate Newton Lake by removing decades of sediment, but now faces challenges in managing stormwater runoff. Last year, the county spent $20 million on dredging, yet the battle against re-sedimentation continues due to substantial runoff from urban areas. The Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) is developing strategies to mitigate these effects, amidst criticism and regulatory hurdles from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Project Overview and Challenges

Newton Lake, a man-made lake suffering from excessive sedimentation primarily from urban runoff, underwent significant dredging to remove 270,000 tons of sediment. This effort, while temporarily improving conditions, faces ongoing challenges from stormwater runoff, carrying an estimated 870 tons of sediment back into the lake annually. The CCMUA’s plans to address upstream sedimentation have been criticized by the state, prompting a reevaluation of strategies to include rain gardens, swales, and underground stormwater-collection structures.

Financing and Future Plans

The dredging project was financed by a $20.9 million loan from New Jersey’s Infrastructure Bank, highlighting the significant investment in preserving the lake. Despite the dredging’s initial success, the CCMUA and local stakeholders are now focused on sustainable stormwater management solutions to protect this investment. Discussions with the Department of Environmental Protection continue, with hopes to proceed with a phase focused on reducing upstream sedimentation.

Community and Environmental Concerns

Local environmental groups and residents express frustration over the project’s focus and the lack of progress on erosion and stormwater management issues. The project’s holistic impact on the watershed and downstream conditions remains a concern, with calls for more comprehensive solutions that include all stakeholders. The effort to rehabilitate Newton Lake reflects broader environmental and community challenges in managing urban runoff and preserving natural water bodies.

The ongoing efforts to improve Newton Lake underscore the complexities of urban environmental management. While the dredging represents a significant step forward, the true test will be in developing and implementing effective stormwater management strategies that address the root causes of sedimentation. Camden County’s commitment to preserving Newton Lake is clear, but the path forward requires collaboration, innovation, and a willingness to adapt.


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