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Posted Thursday, May 28th, 2020

State, County, Local Governments and Organizations Support Lake Protection Effort

Aeration systems, phosphorus-locking technologies, stormwater infrastructure upgrades, and rain gardens are among projects planned in and around Lake Hopatcong this spring and summer, as the Lake Hopatcong Commission implements projects to help prevent and mitigate Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) growth on the lake.Lake Hopatcong Projects Planned to Prevent and Mitigate Harmful Algal Blooms

The projects span all four Lake Hopatcong towns, Jefferson, Mount Arlington, Roxbury, and Hopatcong Borough. The goal is to find the best solutions to prevent HABs on both a short- and long-term basis.

In all, $833,000 worth of projects will be undertaken over the next two years, including $500,000 in harmful algal bloom funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection and local matches totaling $330,000 from the Lake Hopatcong Commission, Lake Hopatcong Foundation, Morris and Sussex counties, and in-kind contributions from the four lake municipalities.

The projects have been prepared with technical assistance of Princeton Hydro LLC, which will review and evaluate the various projects.

“Since the news of our grant award, we have been working with our grant partners to make sure projects are implemented in time for the 2020 season,” said Lake Hopatcong Commission Chairman Ron Smith. “Our lake community cannot sustain another year like 2019 and we are excited for the installation of the first projects in June.”

The projects follow a 2019 Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) outbreak that resulted in a swimming and watersports advisory on Lake Hopatcong. It also was an issue at dozens of other lakes in the state. As a result, Gov. Phil Murphy approved $13 million in state funding to support measures to reduce the likelihood of such blooms in the future.

Projects that are expected to be implemented on Lake Hopatcong are focused in nearshore areas where people have the highest degree of direct contact with water. They include:

  • Stormwater devices that remove phosphorus;
    photo shows man installing water monitoring buoy in Lake Hopatcong

    Water monitoring buoys were placed in Lake Hopatcong in 2019

  • Three types of aeration systems;
  • Application of a nutrient inactivating product;
  • Treatment of a non-copper-based algaecide;
  • Use of a compostable Biochar filter media.

A rain garden rebate program, offered through Rutgers Cooperative Extension, will be available for residents within the Lake Hopatcong watershed. To register for the free virtual rain garden program on June 4, visit www.lakehopatcongcommission.org.

In addition, the Borough of Hopatcong will perform a parallel demonstration on effectiveness of bottom-diffused aeration in the Crescent Cove section of the lake.

The first project to be implemented will be the installation of Biochar, a processed wood product which removes pollutants from water, said Princeton Hydro Director of Aquatic Resources Fred Lubnow.

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers that can form dense blooms under suitable environmental conditions. The blooms can discolor water and produce floating mats or “scums’’ on the surface. Under the right conditions, these HABs also can produce cyanotoxins, which can be dangerous to the health of humans, pets and wildlife.

Although Lake Hopatcong never reached the threshold for the cyanotoxins in 2019, some or all of the state’s monitoring stations on the lake showed cyanobacteria numbers above the then threshold for a swimming and water contact advisory during the summer, which resulted in a devastating season for local residents and businesses.