“A huge shared service partnership comprising all levels of government and non-profit partners working together to improve the environment, the safety of residents and their property.” That is how Freeholder Director Tom Arnone characterized the Wreck Pond Restoration Project, Phase II of which was kicked off yesterday in Spring Lake.
Congressman Chris Smith, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, Assemblyman Dave Rible, Arnone, Freeholders Serena DiMaso and Gary Rich, Spring Lake Mayor Jennifer Naughton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife field supervisor Eric Schrading and American Littoral Society Executive Director Tim Dillingham gathered in the cold yesterday to commemorate the progress of the project that is coming to fruition after more than a decade of advocacy, study and planning.
Phase I of the $7.84 million project, the dredging of the pond by the Monmouth County Department of Department of Public Works and Engineering started in July and was recently completed. Today, construction will begin on an outfall system that will improve tidal ocean flows into the lake while providing protection to surrounding neighborhoods from flooding. Work will also begin on other significant ecological enhancements, including creation of ecosystems using dredged materials and native plants.
“Today’s Wreck Pond Phase 2 Restoration groundbreaking is cause for celebration and hope,” said Smith, who has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NJDEP, Monmouth County and Spring Lake officials to provide ongoing assistance to mitigate the flood damage done by storms. “This has been a team effort from start to finish. The people of Spring Lake and adjacent communities deserve no less.”
Smith has been working on the restoration of the pond since 2005 when he secured authorization for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. Since then, Smith has secured almost $6 million in federal funding for this project.
“Together, we can be very proud of a project with multiple benefits, including reduction in flood risk for those residents who live in and around Wreck Pond, the anticipation of increased fish passage between the ocean and the pond and the gradual return to a healthier pond environment and water quality in one of the most scenic coastal lakes along the Jersey Shore,” Spring Lake Mayor Naughton said. Spring Lake contributed $915,000 to the cost of the project.
“This is clearly a cutting-edge and very, very exciting project,” American Littoral Society Executive Director Dillingham said. “We’re not only restoring and protecting the environment, but we’re (also) protecting the communities next to it. This a textbook example of how to live with the Jersey Shore and not simply on it.”
“I commend the American Littoral Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and all of our partners in helping put together the multiple funding sources necessary to transform a body of water that has been very ill for many years into a living lake again,” Commissioner Martin said.
“Through a coordinated effort on the part of federal, state and local officials, as well as our environmental non-profit partners, residents and beach goers will now be better protected from the environmental and public health risks and flooding that have long plagued southern Monmouth County as a result of the pollution at Wreck Pond,” said Congressman Smith, who represents New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District. “For many years, I have worked with stakeholders seeking, and ultimately now securing, a long-term, sustainable solution and I look forward to marking this milestone in our efforts to make Wreck Pond pure and pristine once again.”
Wreck Pond is a 73 acre coastal tidal pond in southern Monmouth County that is surrounded by Wall Township, Spring Lake Heights, Spring Lake and Sea Girt. It is the center of an over 12 square mile watershed that has long been subject to flooding and water quality problems.
Historically, Wreck Pond had a natural inlet; however, in the 1930’s the inlet was filled in, and a pipe was installed to connect the lake to the ocean. Over time, the restricted tidal flow caused by the pipe, coupled with impacts from increased development, led to a number of environmental issues within the watershed including erosion, impaired water quality, flooding, and reduced fish populations.
Phase II work will be completed by March 15, to make way for the piping plover breeding season.