ROXBURY, NJ – The state is authorizing local health departments again allow swimming at six Lake Hopatcong beaches, having found that harmful algal bloom bacteria counts at the sites were safe for water contact.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said it based its decision on water samples taken Monday, Aug. 12.

The DEP and the state Department of Health “approved the local health department to re-open the following beaches: Pebble Beach, Sand Harbor, Bass Rock Beach, Sperry Springs Beach, Beck Lane Beach and CAPP Beach,” the DEP said.

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However, it said Byram Bay Community Club Beach and Clearwater Beach “remain closed as a result of not having two subsequent samples below the health advisory guidance thresholds.”

State Park Shows Improvement

Swimming continues to be banned at Hopatcong State Park in Roxbury. However, the state’s Aug. 12 water samples found HAB levels at the site to be below the state’s “advisory level” for the first time since July 5. If the next sample shows similar below-threshold levels, the state is likely to lift the swimming restriction at the state park.

The DEP’s advisory, which says people and pets should not contact lake water due to HAB bacteria counts above 20,000 cells per milliliter, remains in effect for all areas of the lake except Indian Harbor, Henderson Cove, Byram Cove and Byram Bay to Halsey Island.

The DEP said it will conduct additional sampling on Thursday, Aug. 15 and will include Byram Bay Community Club Beach and Clearwater Beach.

The latest sampling showed a huge increase in bacteria counts at Crescent Cove/River Styx. The site was found to have 50,625 cells/mL on Aug. 8 and 148,000 cells/mL on Aug. 12, according to the DEP.

Also showing an increase in bacteria were Woodport Bay and the middle of the lake.

The cyanobacteria causing the HAB can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal distress. It can also begin producing highly poisonous toxins, but water tests continue to show that no parts of the lake have significantly high levels of these toxins.

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