Throughout the Fall/Winter timeframe multiple organizations have been committing significant overtime into enacting solutions to help us battle the possible return of Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs), and not repeat the summer of 2019.
During the last Lake Hopatcong Commission (LHC) meeting, held at the Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF) headquarters, hired consultant Princeton Hydro detailed the different projects and grant requests that are underway for 2020.
One of the many projects proposed in a grant submission is the creation of a Floating Island in the Landing area of Lake Hopatcong. According to Princeton Hydro, these floating wetlands can help reduce algae by cycling phosphorus and nitrogen.
The islands look like floating gardens using indigenous plants, milkweed, and hibiscus, among other vegetation. Below the water the vegetation will grow long roots, cementing the islands and keeping them along the shoreline, where they will attract fish, butterflies and turtles.
"We're trying to emulate Mother Nature here. It's a great project and a great way to create sustainability in a natural way," – Lake Hopatcong Foundation Program Director, Donna Macalle-Holly
Floating Islands are not new to Lake Hopatcong, as the first was installed in Jefferson’s Ashley Cove area back in 2014.
Ultrasonic Algae Control:
Another proposed solution is the use of Ultrasonic Algae Control which claims to eliminate up to 90% of algae with the use of specific ultrasonic sound waves. These solar-powered buoy units would be rented during a pilot phase to ensure successful results before any long-term solution is purchased. They also have onboard sensors to provide real-time water quality data, and treatment range of about 500-meters.
The technology uses ultrasonic sound waves to create ultrasonic pressure in the top layer of the water, which prevents the algae from rising to the surface and absorbing light for photosynthesis. Therefore, algae are no longer capable of growing further.
Hopatcong Mayor Michael Francis has his own DEP Grant request underway to help bring relief to the Crescent Cove area of Lake Hopatcong that would use both Nanobubble Aeration and Good Algae to combat the formation of Harmful Algae Blooms.
“Business cannot afford another year like last year… We need to move forward” – Mayor Michael Francis
Nanobubble aeration is a new technology designed to naturally control algae by increasing the oxygen in the water. On-shore generators will produce nanobubbles that are ultra-fine (400 times smaller than a human hair) that will remain within the water column for extended periods of time, providing oxygenation and algae control.
All of the above-mentioned projects are all in addition to the work going into improving the watershed around Lake Hopatcong. This has been an ongoing project that is now shifted into high-gear to reduce the pollutants that flow into the lake.
Projects have Local, State and Federal Backing:
Most of the proposed projects require funding assistance to make the necessary changes, which means that State and Federal grants are key to the short-mid-long term success for Lake Hopatcong. Luckily, the groups mentioned above have been able to gain quick support from the Towns, Counties, State and Federal officials, who have provided written and even matching funds in some cases.
Early Lake Refill:
The final topic of interest is the Spring refill of Lake Hopatcong is getting underway three-weeks early this year. The level will be brought to 8-feet, leveled-off and allow to refill naturally to the 9-foot full-pool level for boating season.
The early refill is based upon the NJ Department of Protection (DEP) request to the LHC seeking guidance on the refill this year. Commission members discussed the request in-depth during the meeting, before recommending the early refill. The primary reason behind the refill is the unlikelihood of temperatures that would cause any ice build-up before Spring.
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