Lake Hopatcong algae bloom closes beach after water tests

A beach at Lake Hopatcong is closed to the public after two rounds of water tests in the area showed high levels of harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Lake Hopatcong Commission Administrator Colleen Lyons confirmed that Crescent Cove Beach Club is closed due to sampling results collected by the state Department of Environmental Protection last Monday and Wednesday, the 27th July.

Data on the DEP website showed concentrations of cyanobacteria, the type of algae in flowers, at 450,000 cells per milliliter on Monday and 308,750 cells per milliliter last week. Both readings are well above the 80,000 cells per milliliter threshold that triggers a state “advisory.”

The latest test concentration is more than double the sample of 171,500 cells per milliliter taken at Crescent Cove on July 15, which resulted in the lake’s first HAB advisory of the year. However, the beach remained open as the Sussex County Health Department determined the bloom did not affect the swimming area.

The DEP website also shows a notice of another test conducted on July 27 on Lake Musconetcong, which is located downstream of Lake Hopatcong and is part of its watershed. The Musconetcong Lake sample had a toxic algae concentration of 189,000 cells per milliliter.

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The DEP recommends that the public avoid “primary contact recreational activities” such as swimming and water skiing in an area under an algae advisory. It is also not recommended to drink water and eat fish caught near the site. People should be careful when doing “secondary contact activities” like fishing or boating.

People kayak, boat and paddle board on Lake Hopatcong on a hot summer day on Sunday July 17, 2022.

Cyanobacteria, if ingested, can cause headaches, sore throat, nausea, abdominal pain, dry cough, diarrhea, and blisters around the mouth. Direct contact with algae can lead to a rash. Animals exposed to cyanobacteria may experience lethargy, stumbling, and loss of appetite.

Harmful algae grow faster in warm, nutrient-rich water, lake officials said, which was prevalent in the area due to recent weather conditions. The area has seen several days of high temperatures, and the heavy rains likely washed nutrients such as lawn fertilizer and animal waste into the lake.

Last week, the Lake Hopatcong Commission authorized the use of an algaecide called GreenClean to a five-acre section of Crescent Cove to reduce the buildup of toxic algae in the area.

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