Milky-white waters in Passaic, NJ spark environmental investigation
PASSAIC — Local officials want answers after the blue waters of Hughes Lake turned milky-white from an unknown substance.
Mayor Hector Lora found out about the pollutant from a resident walking through Third Ward Memorial Park early Wednesday afternoon. The brook feeding into Hughes Lake was clearly the wrong color.
Lora confirmed to New Jersey 101.5 that the state Department of Environmental Protection tested the waters Thursday morning. He said the tests revealed the substance is not hazardous and does not pose an immediate risk to residents or wildlife.
Firefighters flushed the brook later Wednesday. Hughes Lake will take four or five days to completely return to its normal blue color, according to Lora.
Several local, state, and federal agencies are working together to find the source of the substance, according to the mayor. In addition to the state DEP, the Environmental Protection Agency, Passaic Valley Water Commission, and Passaic County are all involved.
The discoloration flowed into Passaic's waterways from a neighboring municipality, but exactly where it started is still unknown.
"We are aware of a water main break in Clifton near the park around the same time of this incident but we have not confirmed the cause," Lora said.
The mayor added that Clifton is also helping in the investigation.
"I must stress that it is illegal to dump any substance or material into any body of water, down a storm drain, or down a manhole or any of these things. We’re going to continue to investigate and if this was purposely dumped we will hold the responsible parties accountable to the fullest extent of the law."