MORRIS COUNTY — Recent water tests have shown that the bacteria level in Lake Hopatcong is more than double the level considered safe, according to a report by NJ.com. Bacteria in the algae blooms can cause skin rashes, and accidentally consuming lake water can lead to serious health reactions, including pneumonia, blisters, and gastrointestinal distress. Any fish caught in the lake are also currently unsafe to eat.
“Our number one priority must be to protect the public, and right now, Lake Hopatcong could be dangerous. I fully support the NJ DEP’s decision. There is no other choice. The public swimming beaches along the lake must be closed immediately,” Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) said. “We sponsored legislation to create the Lake Hopatcong Fund because we care deeply about this lake, as well as the people who live there, and the many who visit every year. It’s one of New Jersey’s crown jewels. We will work diligently with the NJ DEP to ensure we can clean up the lake and reopen public beach access as quickly as we can.”
“We have spent many years fighting for Lake Hopatcong, because we understand how important this resource is to our region,” Senator Anthony Bucco (R-25) said. “Lake Hopatcong drives our local economy and generates tourism and economic revenue for the entire state. It’s a beloved destination for families throughout the country. The NJ DEP’s recommendation is the right call, and we will do everything we can to restore safety conditions as soon as possible.”
“I know that there will be a number of families, near and far, who will be heartbroken by the decision to close public beach access to the lake, especially given the time of year,” Senator Steven Oroho(R-24) said. “That being said, the state has a responsibility to keep people safe from harm. We can’t ignore these high levels of toxic algae. I urge local residents and tourists to follow the DEP’s recommendation to avoid all contact with the water. In the meantime, we will work tirelessly to restore this lake to its former glory.”
The NJ DEP on June 27 issued a statement recommending that local authorities close all public swimming beaches along Lake Hopatcong, a four-square mile lake located between Sussex and Morris Counties. The algae was found near the west shore of the lake, as well as near Byram Bay Beach and Sand Harbor Beach.
Warning signs have been posted and the public swimming beaches cannot be reopened until the state has conducted multiple water tests confirming the levels of bacteria in the lake are safe.
The NJDEP stated that anyone who sees a harmful algal bloom (HAB) can report the bloom by calling the DEP Hotline at 1-877-WARNDEP (877-927-6337) send a mobile alert through the WARN NJDEP mobile app, or report via the DEP’s HAB website by clicking here.
Questions regarding the freshwater harmful algal bloom strategy can be directed to the NJ DEP’s Bureau of Freshwater and Biological Monitoring at (609) 292-0427.