ENVIRONMENT

Hundreds gather at public forum on keeping Lake Mohawk toxic bloom-free

BY Raven Santana, Correspondent |

From Lake Hopatcong, to Greenwood Lake, to Lake Musconetcong, the toxic cyanobacteria that turns water green has prompted the state DEP to advise against swimming, water skiing and other activities at several lakes and bodies of water across the state. Contact with algal blooms can result in rashes, flu-like symptoms and other physical effects. The blooms can also sicken or kill animals that ingest the water.

But, at Lake Mohawk, jet skiers and boaters could be seen enjoying water sports and dockside restaurants. There is no cyanobacteria in the lake, and area residents want to keep it that way.

More than 300 residents took part in a public forum where a panel of experts spoke about the importance of aquatic ecology, lake management and stormwater runoff.

So, why is Lake Mohawk unaffected by the same toxins infecting many of the state’s lakes? Ed Potosnak of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters claims the answer comes down to funding.

“We stand at Lake Mohawk which remains open in contrast to Lake Hopatcong which remains closed. And a lot of things have happened here because there have been financial investments. And without funding, we’re gonna to continue to have impacts like the harmful algae blooms,” he said.

At the forum, panelist Dr. Stephen Souza suggested that communities need to manage phosphorous, a pollutant that can serves as a nutrient for algal blooms. Presentations included showing residents how they could go about building low-cost green infrastructure that in turn would control run-off from drive ways that heads to local lakes and rivers.

Souza says unfortunately there’s no way to treat large lakes; at this point it’s all about managing the situation before it becomes a problem.