Pfister's Pond is a man-made body of water that is estimated to be roughly 90 years old. According to former Tenafly Borough Historian Virginia Mosley, maps from 1899 show a wooded swamp where the pond is now situated. A title search revealed no residents by the name of "Pfister" in Tenafly until at least 1910.
Pfister's Pond covers approximately three to three and a half acres (1.8 hectares). Of this area, about one third is occupied by a woody shrub called buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), one third is covered by emergent (non-woody) vegetation-mostly spatterdock (Nuphar advena), and about a third is open water with submerged vegetation. The maximum water depth (excluding muck) has been as deep as two meters (six feet), but two thirds of the area is only 1 to 1.5 meters deep (2.5-3 feet) due to years of sediment buildup. The area covered by buttonbush has an average depth of less than 0.5 meters (1 to 2 feet). The margins of this area often dry out during summer, sometimes to a width of 6-10 meters. It is still possible to canoe some three-quarters the length of the pond. Ice-skating is also possible over about two-thirds of the area since the spatterdock dies back under the surface every fall.
To date TNC has reviewed internal documents (see "Pfister's Pond 2011– A Comprehensive Analysis" link below under documents) which point to sediment removal (dredging) as the only practical way to increase water depth and reverse the eutrophication of the pond.
TNC has met with representatives from Flat Rock Brook (Quarry Pond) and Closter Nature Center (Ruckman Pond), both of which decided that dredging was the preferred strategy. In both cases the associated Boroughs (landowners) took leadership on the projects with the associated Nature Centers taking on a support role.
TNC has also met with representatives of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the Director-Office of Local Government Assistance and the Supervising Environmental Specialist. The Supervising Environmental Specialist unequivocally recommended the removal of sediment as the appropriate solution. These representatives indicated that our proposed dredging project did not seem to pose any disqualifying problems. NJDEP issues about 600 such pond permits a year. They suggested that the permit application be filed immediately; once issued, permits are valid for 5 years.
TNC has met with the Supervisor- Heavy Equipment, of the Bergen County Mosquito Commission, who indicated that they would be willing to conduct the dredging. The town would need to file an application, but he anticipated no difficulties in approval.
We have asked Borough of Tenafly to take a leadership role in this project as was the case in Englewood and Closter. In those cases as in ours the Borough is the owners of the pond. This restoration process is a capital project far beyond the “maintenance and care” which is Tenafly Nature Center’s purview.
At the September 28th Council meeting TNC and the Borough of Tenafly agreed to formed the Pfister’s Pond Business Plan Ad Hoc Committee the purpose of working on a business plan to see where the finances could come from.
The committee consists of:
The Committee would come to a consensus on a proposal which can be approved by both the Mayor and Council as well as the Tenafly Nature Center Trustees.
Q. Is "weed harvesting" a viable alternative to dredging?
A. Unfortunately not, due to the following issues:
Disadvantages of Hydroraking and Weed Harvesting
Q. If sediment tests find contamination, won't the Borough be liable to remove the contaminated sediment?
A. If the sediment tests find contamination, the Borough will NOT be liable to remove the contaminated sediment.
According to conversations with Mark C. Davis, Acting Supervisor, NJDEP Office of Dredging and Sediment Technology and Nancy Hamill, Ecological/Sediment Criteria, NJDEP-Site Remediation Program, unless the site is a known “Area of Concern,” there is nothing that mandates the pond be dredged (or other remediation activities) if contaminants are found unless they are a result of discharge by a responsible party. If it is simply sediment from a pond and the pond is dredged, then the material must be managed at an acceptable site based on the sampling results.