With temperatures expected to climb up to 85 today, the last full day of summer, 40 percent of Lake Hopatcong still remains under a no-swimming advisory as a result of the harmful algal bloom that has been widespread throughout the lake since summer’s start.
New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection lifted another portion of the advisory on Friday for the mouth of Wood Port Bay, mid-lake and east of Davis Cove and in the vicinity of Bertrand Island, according to a DEP report.
"We are pleased to lift the advisory for parts of Lake Hopatcong in advance of the last official weekend of summer. We realize that this has been a frustrating season for the residents, business owners and visitors to this beautiful lake," DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said in a statement released Friday evening. "Our primary goal throughout has been to ensure the protection of public health, especially for vulnerable populations such as children. The DEP remains committed to better understanding the causes of these blooms and solutions to reduce them in the future."
Mid-lake in the lower-central section, Prospect Point, Wood Port Bay, Crescent Cove in River Styx and Hopatcong State Park are still within the advisory area.
While the cyanobacteria - the bacteria within the harmful bloom known to potentially cause a range of health issues - was presently below the 20,000 per milliliter state level on Thursday’s water sample for Hopatcong State Park, the bacteria count in that area has remained above New Jersey’s Health Advisory Guidance Levels for the majority of the summer.
On the other hand, DEP aerial surveillance on Sept. 17 to seek out the phycocyanin - the bloom’s pigment visible from the air - detected a significant drop in phycocyanin levels over the last month in many locations throughout the lake.
On Thursday, state Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-3rd Dist., Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24th Dist. and Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, R-26th Dist., toured Lake Hopatcong by boat beginning at Nolan’s Point, aboard the Lake Hopatcong Foundation Floating Classroom. It was Sweeney’s first tour of the lake, which he said during the tour was "just too important of an asset not to take care of."
State Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-26th Dist., also introduced legislation on Thursday to increase the state’s annual funding to the Lake Hopatcong Commission, the independent state agency that handles the lake’s water quality issues, from $500,000 to $4 million.
DeCroce, who referred to the bloom as the largest to have ever hit the lake, said, "My legislation appropriates the type of financial resources to properly maintain the state-owned lake. We need to begin fixing the problem immediately at Lake Hopatcong. Our lake community cannot endure another disastrous summer season."
Jennifer Jean Miller can also be reached by phone at: 973-383-1230; and on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/JMillerNJH.