New Policies Would Allow Lakes to Safely Remain Open Longer, Allow People to Make Informed Choices
Senator Anthony M. Bucco said he is optimistic about changes announced by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) regarding the manner in which harmful algal blooms (HABs) in state lakes will be managed and communicated to the public going forward.
A New Jersey lake closed last year due to a HAB. Sen. Anthony M. Bucco said he is optimistic about changes announced by the NJDEP regarding the manner in which harmful algal blooms in state lakes will be managed and communicated to the public going forward. (SenateNJ.com)
“We were deeply concerned when Lake Hopatcong and other recreational lakes around New Jersey were shut down last year for much of the summer due to State standards for algal blooms that were much stricter than virtually anywhere else,” said Bucco (R-25). “That approach hit our lakeside communities and their economies hard. With the current economic challenges of COVID-19, I am encouraged by the fact that the NJDEP listened to our concerns and developed a much more reasonable and nuanced approach to managing algal blooms that will prevent unnecessary additional harm to our lakeside businesses.”
The NJDEP has developed a color-coded health alert index that will provide guidance on recreational use recommendations to the public based on different count levels of cyanobacteria and/or cyanotoxins present. The index has multiple alert categories, each providing recommendations based on water monitoring results.
The new guidelines allow recreational activities to continue in more situations when blooms are detected. During smaller blooms, at count levels when recreational activity would have been prohibited previously, people will instead be provided with clear signage of the alert level to allow for informed decisions to be made.
“Under the new system, lakes that were closed completely last year could remain open to various forms of recreation in many instances,” added Bucco. “This aligns the management of New Jersey’s lakes more closely with policies that have proven safe in other states, while giving people more information and choice about the risks they are willing to accept. That’s what we asked for on behalf of our constituents. We’re glad the NJDEP listened.”
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