June 1, 2018
Updated June 11, 2018
Updated June 15, 2018
On or about Monday, June 4, DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife will begin the drawdown of Columbia Lake, located within the Columbia Wildlife Management Area. The drawdown will be at the rate of approximately one foot per day throughout the week. At that time the portion of the management area in the vicinity of the lake will be closed to the public.
The Columbia Lake dam is located 1/4 mile upstream of the Paulins Kill River's confluence with the Delaware River in Knowlton Township, Warren County. The dam impounds a 43-acre lake that stretches more than 1.5 miles upstream of the dam. The dam and the lake (sold by NJ Power & Light Co. in 1955) is owned and managed by the NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife as part of the 1,098 acre Columbia WMA.
Since the construction of the dam in 1909 by Warren County Power Co., the 18-foot high, 330-foot long dam has served as a barrier to fish passage, severing New Jersey's third largest tributary to the Delaware River from its watershed. This obstruction blocks American Shad access to their historic spawning grounds, and impedes the movement of American Eel. The proposed removal of the dam will restore fish passage to over 10 miles of river, restore natural flow regime, and reclaim 1.5 miles of stream habitat.
The dam removal project is just one aspect of a larger initiative led by The Nature Conservancy with the goals of improving riparian and in-stream habitat throughout the Paulins Kill watershed.
Columbia Lake Dam Removal Project Information (pdf, 275kb) - Includes project goals, partners, funding, and updated timeline.