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Photos by Fritz Rethage · April 30, 2004 · © All Rights
Paterson, New Jersey
the tide to clear the river
Willam DePillo, head operator of
the Great Falls Hydroelectric Station (the City of Paterson owned Algonquin LTD), said
there has never been a falls cleanup of this magnitude.
DiPillo who organizes a cleanup on the banks around the Great Falls every Arbor Day said
he wants to shut off the falls to get the trash and debris out of the riverbed.
DiPillo said he got the idea to dry up the falls in October, when he dropped the river's
level about a foot to test the strength of the dam, which was built in 1840. The last time
the falls ran completely dry was when the hydroelectric plant was first opened in 1914
The falls won't literally run dry but the goal is to lower the water level by 27 inches,
to the top of the 13-foot dam that routes water through the hydroelectric station. The
hydroelectric station will have two of its three turbines activated and producing
electricity. Trout, bass, pike, catfish, carp, and eels will be diverted through a fish
bypass next to the mouth of the hydroelectric plant.
On Friday, April 30, 2004, a massive cleanup was scheduled at the falls with more than 200
volunteers, from Paterson public schools and local businesses, will do the hard
labor of lugging the junk up from the sides and the bottom of the river.
As DiPillo plunged big wooden flashboards into the water to heightening the dam and
diverting the river through the station to run the falls dry, branches of fallen
trees, tires, etc. began to poke through the surface of the water on the far bank.
Robert DeVita, River Restoration
Project manager for the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, brought a crew of a
dozen men to work with axes and chain saws and hack through the dead wood that
cluttered the riverbanks. They used pulleys fastened to trees to pull bundles of dead
branches out of the water. Other workers dredged the river muck and the water's surface
with rakes, sifting up plastic cups and bottles, beer and soda cans, plastic milk jugs and
bags and packaging and potato chip bags.
The workers chucked the garbage
and big hunks of wood into bins donated by JK Carting, a garbage disposal company in
Paterson. They fed the twigs and sticks into a wood-chipping machine.
News, Thursday, April 27, 2004
Passaic County Sheriffs Department
Some of the workers from the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission