CHERRY RIDGE - Residents of the Lake Cadjaw Dam are speaking out about a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
"We have invested around $200,000 in trying to repair the dam," said Vice-President of the Lake Cadjaw Watershed Association (LCWA) Walter Jennerick. Despite that investment, he says that DEP is becoming impossible to please.
In a press release from the LCWA, it states that DEP "recently notified the Lake Cadjaw Watershed Association of its intention to breach the Lake Cadjaw Dam in 2016 if extensive repairs are not made to the existing dam."
The 66-acre dam is primarily in Cherry Ridge Township, with a portion in Texas Township just outside Honesdale Borough. The level of the lake was lowered by five feet 25 years ago after the state ordered it due to the dam's deteriorating condition.
The lake dates back to the 1800s when a dam was built and the water stored was used to supply the Delaware & Hudson Canal. Currently, the lake is a recreational body of water owned by the LCWA.
"We use the lake for boating and fishing," he said. "We keep it stocked with fish."
Around 35 years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers lowered the lake five and one-half feet, which left behind a thicket of cattails.
"We have been working very hard for the past 15 years to appease the DEP," Jennerick said. He added that, "They (DEP) keep coming up with additional things" to fix or repair.
The estimated cost to repair the problems is $305,000 and that DEP "did not have record of the dam permit," for the Lake Cadjaw Dam.
"The water company owned the dam before the association," Jennerick said. Just to apply for the dam permit requires $70,000 bond to cover the cost of breaching.
"We are just a small community. We don't even collect mandatory dues," he said. Residents of the lake can contribute voluntary dues of $100 annually.
In 2012, the LCWA did submit a dam permit application and "concurrently included a proposed increase" in the water level of 2.1 feet. That permit application also included "extensive hydraulic studies" also required by DEP.
The LCWA says in a response from DEP, it states that even with no increase in the water pool depth, the structure "needed spillway modifications and improvements," that focused on "modifying the downstream earthen embankment." A spillway is a structure used to provide a controlled release of water flow from a dam into an area downstream.
Also included in the response, the association says that if the water level is raised, it could "potentially affect acres of wetlands and submerged aquatic vegetation."
Jennerick said that the "DEP seems to be more concerned with the plants than the people."
The LCWA is also working with engineering firm Reilly & Associates, based in Pittston, in the hopes of coming up with a plan that meets all DEP requirements.
"We can't seem to satisfy anything they want," Jennerick said of DEP. He says that he also hopes the association can restore the dam just to its original height and leave residents with a lake. If the dam is breached, the lake will be drained and reduced to wetlands.
Calls placed to DEP were not returned by press time Wednesday.