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In December 2003 Riverkeeper’s patrol boat captain, John Lipscomb observed a dark brown muddy runoff from the holding basin used in maintenance dredging operations at the PIPC (Palisades Interstate Park Commission)- run Englewood Boat Basin in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Although the maintenance dredging is necessary, it was being conducted improperly, creating a plume of turbidity in the River which is harmful to the ecosystem.
At various times over the following three years, John continued to observe various forms of improper dredging at both Alpine and Englewood Boat Basins, primarily due to the use of inadequate settling ponds. Moreover, John witnessed flagrant violations of the law by Monte’s Marina, the lessee of the Englewood boat basin, which constructed a boat lift without proper permitting, and performed illegal “clamshell” dredging.
Riverkeeper reported these matters on various occasions to the PIPC itself, NJ DEP, and the Army Corps of Engineers. Due to a weak, virtually standard-less permit, the DEP was initially unable to bring proper enforcement actions. However, the Army Corps did issue a “Cease and Desist” order to Monte’s Marina concerning the clamshell dredging. Riverkeeper continued to press for enforcement despite the fact that during the fall of 2006, the NJ DEP reported to Riverkeeper that pertinent files were missing from the agency. Riverkeeper responded by providing the NJ DEP with important documents from its own files to assist the agency’s enforcement efforts.
In the fall of 2006, the NJ DEP substantially modified the dredging permit to require increased effectiveness of the settling ponds and to limit the level of sediment in the discharge which returns to the River. Further, on January 5, 2007, the NJ DEP served a Notice of Violation upon Monte’s Marina and the PIPC listing six violations to be recorded as part of permanent enforcement history of PIPC. NJ DEP also demanded a written response and threatened penalties on a daily basis.
Riverkeeper will continue to watch these sites.