RENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is advising the public to avoid swimming in or contact with Lake Hopatcong water due to an extensive Harmful Algal Bloom, or HAB, confirmed this week by aerial surveillance.
Using highly specialized sensors, the DEP’s Division of Water Monitoring and Standards’ aerial surveillance on Wednesday confirmed that large areas of Lake Hopatcong are experiencing cyanobacteria blooms. The rapid spread of the bloom may be the result of heavy rainfall carrying nutrient- laden stormwater into the lake, followed by periods of warm weather. The DEP will monitor cyanobacteria levels until the lake is determined to be safe for recreational contact.
Based on the widespread nature of the
HAB, the recreational advisory may be in place for weeks, if not longer. The duration of a Harmful Algal Bloom is unpredictable and
may be influenced by availability of nutrients and weather conditions. In many cases in 2018, HAB was observed on water bodies well into the fall season.
Often referred to as blue-green algae, cyanobacteria are not true algae but are capable of excessive growth through photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria blooms are usually a bright green, but can also appear as spilled paint, “pea soup,” or as having a thick coating or “mat” on the surface. These blooms can often be confused for typical algae blooms.
Exposure can cause a range of health effects, including rashes, allergy-like reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation, skin rashes and eye irritation.