New Jersey towns fight toxic algae blooms in lakes across the state

MOUNT OLIVE, New Jersey — If you’re planning to get out on the water this weekend, make sure you steer clear of the nearly a dozen lakes now infested with a toxic bacteria that can cause skin rashes and other sickness.

"We haven’t been coming cause it’s been closed," said Vicaiello Vizzio, a sunbather who had hoped to get on the Budd Lake Municipal Beach this afternoon. Instead, he laid out on a nearby park bench.

"No swimming, no bathing, no contact with the water, no fishing," said Mount Olive Business Administrator Andrew Tatarenko, who rattled off the list of restricted recreational activities. "There is a harmful algae bloom present in the water."

This harmful algae bloom known as cyanobacteria has popped up in over a dozen lakes and waterways across New Jersey this summer. It can make the water look pea-soup green, or it can also show up looking like a green foam, green streaks or leave green spots on lakeside rocks.

"It’s all over the place so you know what you gonna do about it," said Vizzio.

A swimming advisory was just lifted in a couple sections of Lake Hopatcong, where the state has deployed real-time monitoring buoys to keep an eye on the harmful bacteria.

Exposure symptoms include: rashes, allergic reactions, flu-like symptoms, stomach pain, coughing and wheezing, and eye irritation.

Mount Olive has put bubbling aerators in their lake to keep the water moving.

Still water, warm temperatures, fertilizer from rainwater runoff and invasive plants are all to blame for bolstering algae blooms across the region.

"We started to mechanically harvest the lake," said Tatarenko. "We removed over 160 pounds of vegetative waste from the lake."

Mount Olive is also chemically treating the water and they’ve hired an outside consultant to help.

"This is the worst I’ve ever seen it," said Justin Kleber, manager of Docks Marina in Budd Lake.

But even with the water green as can be, Kleber said plenty of people are still bringing their boats in for service.

Budd Lake has been closed since the first week of August.

Later this month a panel of New Jersey experts will get together to assess the problem and discuss solutions.

Until then its recommended you pay attention to any lake advisories.

Find out more from New Jersey state resources on Water Monitoring and Biological Monitoring.

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