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Bergen County Residents Say Construction Site Has Turned Streams Brown

SADDLE RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Streams in several Bergen County towns have looked brown and muddied for days.

Residents claim the color is coming from a construction site that's filled with hazardous chemicals. Now, many are wondering, are those streams contaminated?

As CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported, hoses pump mud into an Upper Saddle River stream – mud coming the former Apple Ridge golf course, a 100 acre site that had arsenic. It sits where Upper Saddle River, Mahwah and Ramsey meet.

"We are facing the biggest mud dump in the history of my town," community activist Derek Michalski said.

Michalski took video of the controversial practice Friday. He says recently the streams and brooks have stayed muddy for six days in a row after it rains.

"That seems troubling," Ramsey resident Jeanne Jaekel said.

"I would be surprised if they had a permit to do that," said Ramsey resident Bill Jaekel.

The runoff is allegedly coming from the former course.

Drone Force 2 shows the property looking like a desert. Some 1,000 trees were cut down last year. Now, Toll Brothers is developing the property to build 78 upscale single-family homes.

Michalski said the state's Department of Environmental Protection told neighbors they'd have to spend hundreds to test their own water if they were concerned.

"It's unfair to this community when we are facing huge corporation spending millions of dollars to resell the property with profit, and we are stuck with the wonky, muddy waters," he said.

CBS2 reached out to the DEP, who referred us to the Bergen County soil conservation district. Rozner's calls were not returned.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi convened the agencies to investigate after seeing Michalski's video.

"This has been a very difficult project," she said.

Toll Brothers said it has temporarily stopped all dewatering efforts on its site. It insists its operations meet state standards.

"If they had stopped pumping on Friday, you know it's still discolored," Mahwah Council President Robert Hermansen said.

None of the government agencies would answer whether they would test the water.

The town's engineer told CBS2 there were no concerns, because the developer was filtering the water before dumping it into the stream.

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