New dredging technology could help Kirkwood Lake cleanup

New dredging technology could help Kirkwood Lake cleanup

With cleanup efforts still ongoing, new technology may provide the help Kirkwood Lake needs, according to Chair of the Kirkwood Lake Environmental Committee Alice Johnston.

Currently waiting to hear from the staff of Congressman Rob Andrews, Johnston said she is working with Ali Maher, director of Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rutgers, and research engineer Ryan Miller on a new kind of dredging technology that has already proven to be successful in areas such as Newark.

“It will be less costly and more environmentally friendly,” Johnston said.

Johnston said the new dredging technology involves injecting cement material into silt, which hardens it into a solid block that then can be carted off and driven away.
“It solidifies it and stabilizes it,” Johnston said. “It’s a whole lot less invasive than traditional dredging.”

Engineer Doug Gaffney, a senior associate engineer with Gahagan & Bryant Associates, Inc., presented the new technology during a meeting with the county about a week ago. With 50 to 60 residents in attendance, both Maher and Miller were also on hand to answer any questions from the public.

“I think it was very well received,” Johnston said. “It’s been a long time that this problem has been here. Residents want to act. It’s been too long.”

Meeting with Andrews in July, Johnston said she is hoping to run a pilot demonstration of the new dredging system for both the Environmental Protection Agency and Sherwin-Williams

The Sherwin-Williams superfund site was put on the National Priority list in 2008.
In addition to Kirkwood Lake, Bridgewood Lake, portions of Honey Run, White Sands Branch and Hilliards Creek all contain contaminants from the former Sherwin-Williams paint plant. The Sherwin-Williams Superfund site is currently under remedial investigation in the area.

“It’s moving forward, but slowly,” Director of the Camden County Department of Parks Frank Moran said.

While there is no set timetable for when the lake will be fully remediated, Moran said the county is still working closely with the residents of Voorhees, as well as the EPA, to see that this issue is resolved.

“We want it sooner than later, but it’s an ongoing project,” Moran said. “We as a county are really getting on it.”

Johnston explained that testing by the EPA on Kirkwood Lake began in 1999 to see if contaminants from the site had reached the lake. In early 2000, Johnston then received a letter notifying her that her property was contaminated with traces of arsenic and heavy lead. The letter went on to instruct her to wear gloves while doing yard work and to notify any company that may be working on her property.

In addition to ongoing efforts, Johnston also explained that the committee held a Nature Walk/Talk and cleanup held in conjunction with Green Apple Day, American Rivers and Cooper River Fest on Sept 28.

During that time, both Johnston and environmentalist from the South Jersey Land and Water Trust Michael Hogan lead cleanup efforts. Thirty-two volunteers showed to help clean the lake, while Hogan also identified species of plants and trees surrounding the lake, as well as performing a macro invertebrate of the creek area and Kirkwood Lake.

Johnston was also recently honored with a proclamation from the Camden County Board of Freeholders at its last meeting.

In May, the Camden County Department of Public Works began working on clearing brush and trash.

With concern that contaminants would flow down stream, Johnston explained that a dam was constructed, but has since only lead to more problems with waters overflowing into residents’ yards and possibly creating more contamination than before.

“My concern is the lake is dying,” Johnston said.

With spatterdocks and other vegetation so dense in the lake, Johnston said the lake barely resembles a lake at all. From afar, all that can be seen is green and thick brush.

In an attempt to control the spatterdock growth, Camden County has sprayed the area with aquatic herbicide three times within the year. While spraying in June and July seemed effective, Johnston says the last spray seemed less effective.

While the county cannot spray anymore, it plans to again spray the area next spring — in hopes to curtail the spatterdock growth next year.