Dredging of Brainerd Lake still anticipated for this fall

Scott Jacobs
Brainerd Lake in Cranbury on Nov 2.

The coronavirus pandemic has not altered the plan to dredge Brainerd Lake.

As of right now, the project is still scheduled to start and be completed in the fall. The lake is located near the center of downtown Cranbury and also feeds into Cranbury Brook where there is a dam.

“An exact start date has not been determined, however the lake cannot be lowered prior to September per New Jersey Department of Environmental Protections (NJDEP) guidelines,” Business Administrator Denise Marabello said.

According to the National Ocean Service, the process of dredging is the removal of sand, silt and debris from gradually filling the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors and other water bodies. Dredging is also a routine that reduces the exposure of fish, wildlife and people to contaminants and prevents the spread of contaminants to other areas of the water body.

Brainerd Lake will be lowered for the project, so that sediment can be physically removed with excavators. Sediment, a combination of clay, silt and debris, has to be removed in order to get the lake back to its full water capacity. Township Engineer Tom Decker has estimated about 60,000 tons of sediment and material reside at the bottom of the lake.

The material would then be moved offsite by trucks. Vehicles would go through Village Park and set up a staging area. Contractors would have to restore back the area’s existing state.

Decker also said there would be about 2,000 truckloads of sediment (removed); that is about 50 trucks a day over an eight-week period. Officials anticipate the work’s completion in about two months after the official start date of the project and hope to remove any invasive species from the lake.

In February, township committee members adopted a bond ordinance that appropriated $4 million for the dredging of Brainerd Lake.

According to the ordinance, officials will spend $1.6 million from a capital improvement fund and $200,000 from capital surplus, and authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $2.2 million to fund the planned work at the lake.