STATE RESPONDS TO DAM FAILURES IN BURLINGTON
DEP Will Reopen Loan Application Period for
Dam Repair Funding
(04/83) TRENTON -- The State is responding
today to the failure of six significant hazard dams and
three low hazard dams in Burlington County, as well as the
severe weakening of two high hazard dams. Steady rainfall
of four to 12 inches in the past 24 hours contributed to
the dam failures. In response to today's events, Governor
James E. McGreevey has directed the Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) to reopen the application process for loans
to fund dam repairs.
"The State of New Jersey responded immediately to
this situation, sending engineering teams to protect public
safety and guard against loss of life or major property
damage," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell.
"As today's flooding has heightened awareness of the
importance of shoring up the state's dams, Governor McGreevey
has directed the DEP to reopen the application period for
dam repair loans funded by the bond referendum passed last
The DEP and State Police first responded to the dam failures
around midnight after receiving reports of potential dam
safety issues in the Medford Lakes area of Burlington County.
The DEP dispatched a team of engineers to the area to confirm
the emergency conditions, survey and assess the affected
areas, and coordinate with the state police and the offices
of emergency management. Later in the morning, the DEP dispatched
two teams of engineers to assess and to inspect other dams
located in the area.
New Jersey has more than 1,600 dams on streams and rivers
throughout the state. Approximately 60 dams are located
in Medford Lakes and surrounding areas. So far, the DEP
has confirmed the failure of six significant hazard dams
in Burlington County:
Lower Aetna Lake Dam, Medford Lakes Borough
Upper Aetna Lake Dam, Medford Lakes Borough
Birchwood Lake Dam, Medford Township
Lake Stockwell Dam, Medford Township
Papoose Lake Dam, Medford Township
Inawendiwin Lower Dam, Tabernacle Township
In addition, three low hazard dams - Inawendiwin Upper
Dam in Tabernacle Township, Crane Lake Dam in Evesham Township
and Kenilworth Lake Dam in Medford Township - have also
Two high hazard dams, Timber Lake Dam in Medford Township
and Vincentown Mill Dam in Vincentown, are currently under
Dam Emergency Conditions, with Timber Lake Dam partially
breached. Dam Emergency Conditions are situations where
a dam is being overtopped or rapid deterioration is occurring.
A failure may eventually occur; however, pre-planned emergency
responses may moderate or alleviate failure. In this case,
the DEP is working with the dam owner to engage in a complete,
controlled lowering of Timber Lake. The state continues
to evaluate the situation at Vincentown Mill Dam.
There are four hazard classifications of dams in New Jersey.
The classifications relate to the potential for property
damage and/or loss of life should the dam fail:
- Class I (High-Hazard Potential) - Failure of the dam
may result in probable loss of life and/or extensive property
- Class II (Significant-Hazard Potential) - Failure of
the dam may result in significant property damage; however
loss of life is not envisioned.
- Class III (Low-Hazard Potential) - Failure of the dam
is not expected to result in loss of life and/or significant
- Class IV (Small-Dam Low-Hazard Potential) - Failure
of the dam is not expected to result in loss of life or
significant property damage. Dam must also meet specific
size and construction requirements.
There are 196 high hazard dams in New Jersey; the DEP has
determined that 50 of these dams are in need of repairs
at an estimated cost of at least $33 million. There are
also 396 significant hazard dams throughout the state; 317
are in need of some form of repairs. The estimated cost
to bring these significant hazard dams up to current standards
is at least $126 million.
"The public's safety should not be jeopardized by
dam failures," added Campbell. "Governor McGreevey
had the foresight to recognize the magnitude of this problem
in campaigning for passage last fall of a ballot referendum
authorizing $200 million for dam repairs and other infrastructure
Public Question Number 3, overwhelmingly approved by voters
last November, authorized bond funding to help repair dams
that pose threats to public safety as well as to promote
dredging, stream restoration, and flood control projects.
The referendum also provided bonds for state-authorized
loans financing wastewater treatment and water resource
projects that would provide vital improvements to water
Funds from this bond referendum will be used to help prevent
future failures like those that happened today. Applications
for the first round of loans under the program were accepted
this spring. More information about DEP's dam safety program
and the loan program is available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/damsafety.
The DEP and state police will continue to assess the situation
in Burlington County throughout the rest of the day and
help make every effort to minimize damage from the dam failures.