LAKE HOPATCONG - Neighbors along Lake Hopatcong say the water level is well below normal, making it dangerous for boaters.
Residents say they want the state Department of Environmental Protection to stop the scheduled draw-downs every fall. That's when the DEP lowers the lake by 2 feet to allow for waterfront maintenance and to protect properties from ice damage. Every five years, the water level is dropped 5 feet to allow for major repairs to lakeside structures and the dam.
In addition to the yearly draw-down, the DEP also lets nearly 7.5 million gallons out of the lake every day. That water feeds lakes downstream, which protect the habitats of aquatic life.
People who say their businesses depend on the lake say the water management plan needs to be re-evaluated.
"If you look around the marina, there are more boats on the land than they are in the water. Probably half of our slips are not even usable," says marina owner Ron Sorensen.
Residents say they plan to appeal to the DEP for help at the next town meeting. In the meantime, they are hoping for more rainfall to replenish the lake.