U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer and N.J. Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce speak algal blooms, funding at Greenwood Lake in West Milford on Jan. 23, 2020.


WEST MILFORD ― Public seashores within the southern portion of Greenwood Lake have been closed due to excessive ranges of dangerous algal micro organism in current exams, stated the state Division of Environmental Safety.

One pattern of lake water taken at Brown’s Level on July 6 confirmed a cell depend of greater than 100,000, placing that space into the “orange” warning coloration stage on the DEP’s new warning system.


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That coloration stage signifies “confirmed HAB with excessive threat of well being results attributable to excessive toxin ranges” and closes public seashores within the space.

Samples taken the identical day at different suspected HAB websites confirmed some potential for well being results, however had decrease cell counts and have been within the “blue” or watch stage.


The Orange coloration warning was additionally posted for Spruce Run Recreation Space in Hunterdon County and at 5 different areas in New Jersey.

Orange is the second-most extreme stage of the five-color system put in place late final yr by DEP. Not one of the lakes examined by DEP fell within the Black coloration which might end in closing of your entire physique of water.

Though known as “algal,” due to the bluish-green coloration, the blooms are literally huge colonies of micro organism that produce a toxin which, if it is available in contact with people can vary from minor irritation to extreme well being circumstances.

The micro organism feed on two vitamins, fastened nitrogen (nitrates and ammonia) and phosphorus, which arrives within the lakes from the encircling surroundings. Within the daytime, the micro organism come to the floor to get daylight and hotter waters forming a “scum” on the floor. In heavy outbreaks, the colonies can type into thick mats on the floor.


Because the micro organism die, they launch the dangerous toxins.

The DEP’s Division of Water Monitoring and Requirements developed the color-coding system in addition to an interactive map ( which reveals which websites have been examined and the outcomes.

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“Every week is getting worse. We solely had a handful of HABs instances on the finish of June, and now we have now eleven instances in eight counties,” stated Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Membership, which is pushing for extra state cash for tasks to assist stem the move of vitamins into lakes and streams.


“Folks shouldn’t swim within the water from these lakes, however we nonetheless should drink it. They nonetheless permit folks to exit in boats even supposing folks swim off their boats on a regular basis. Spruce Run and Greenwood Lake have been closed for many of the season final yr, and it appears like it could occur once more this yr,” stated Tittel.

Below the brand new system, individuals who suspect a HAB can contact their municipal or county well being division, which might then make its personal spot inspection and report back to DEP, which exams samples.


Additionally closed for a lot of final yr was Lake Hopatcong. The DEP map reveals sampling has been achieved on suspected blooms, however the outcomes confirmed no dangerous ranges of micro organism cells or toxins.

“Local weather impacts will solely worsen and we have to shield the lakes and rivers we swim in, however extra importantly the reservoirs that we drink from,” stated Tittel. “DEP must take robust motion to guard our lakes and their watersheds, in any other case our lakes might find yourself dying.” 

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