Lake Hopatcong Harmful Algae Bloom Testing Starts this Week

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As multiple projects and plans are underway on Lake Hopatcong to protect against a resurgence of Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs), we learned recently the first of the tests are underway this week on May 19, 2020. Eleven sites will be tested by Princeton Hydro on behalf of the Lake Hopatcong Commission.

This early-stage testing will provide the first glimpse of how 2020 is shaping up for the lake, as the results will be available within a few days.

In case you missed last year:

Lake Hopatcong Beach ClosedIn 2019 Lake Hopatcong saw its worst year of Harmful algal blooms (HABs), with a good portion of the lake closed for swimming for the majority of the summer. These HABs occur when colonies of algae—simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater—grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds.

What Causes HABs:

What Causes Harmful Algal Blooms Clean Water Action August 2016In a balanced aquatic ecosystem, algae are always moderately present. However, heavy rains, followed by periods of sunny and hot weather, create the conditions for algae outbreaks – especially when stormwater, soil erosion, and sewage spills carry phosphorus-laden water over parking lots or sidewalks where the water can’t be absorbed into the ground. More phosphorus increases the total amount of algae and leads to more “bad” blue-green algae that make up a HAB.

Will we see a repeat of HABs in 2020 on Lake Hopatcong?

Opening conversations at the Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting, placed this important topic right behind the budget. Commissioners voiced the need to ensure that our local businesses, do not see a one-two punch this year after a slow start to the 2020 season.

Fred S. Lubnow, Ph. D Director of Aquatic Programs – Princeton Hydro who has studied Lake Hopatcong for over 20 years, gives the following thoughts as he answered Commissioners questions regarding the possibilities of HABs in 2020.

Possibilities of HABs in 2020: Too Early to Call

  • Too Early to Call – June is the Key:
    • Mild Winter is an issue
    • Weather is similar to last year
    • The wet spring is bringing nutrients (possibility phosphate) into the lake

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“The testing to be performed on May 19, 2020 at the 11 sites will be our first indicator of what the 2020 season for Lake Hopatcong looks like.”  Stated Dr. Lubnow

2020 HAB Projects on Lake Hopatcong:

Since the summer of 2020 multiple organizations and the four towns have launched a series of projects designed to help evaluate and mitigate keeping the cell accounts under control.

See Related Article: Earth Day Celebration – What is being done for Lake Hopatcong?

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