ROXBURY, NJ – (Updated 2 p.m.) The state banned swimming at Hopatcong State Park in Landing until further notice and is advising local health authorities to close all public swimming beaches around the lake.
The action is due to a bacterial bloom known as blue-green algae and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is warning the public to not even come into contact with lake water. That includes partaking in swimming, wading and other water sports.
The DEP advisory also warns people to not eat any fish caught in the lake. “Fish in this water body should not be eaten,” says the advisory. “Pets should not drink the water.”
The lake has been experiencing blooms of "cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms" (CyanoHABs) at various beaches for several days. According to the DEP, these bacteria – while being known as blue-green algae – “are not true algae.”
CyanoHABs are naturally present in lakes and streams, usually in low numbers, according to the DEP. However some conditions cause dense blooms which produce floating mats on the water surface, according to the state.
"Exposure can cause a range of health effects, including rashes, allergy-like reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation, skin rashes and eye irritation," the DEP said in a statement.
It pointed out that blue-green algae blooms can produce cyanotoxins “that are dangerous for humans, pets, livestock and wildlife.
Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo said he received a call from the DEP yesterday about its advisory.
“The safety of residents is our most important concern,” he said. “While the bloom is a result of the weather, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time for residents and businesses around the lake. It is my hope that the weather cooperates and the bloom clears up quickly — especially as we approach the Fourth of July weekend.”
The lake is scheduled to be the scene of this Saturday’s annual “Miss Lotta Veteran’s Cruise.” As of today, the event is still on track to take place.
During the event, military veterans will be given a ride around the lake on the Miss Lotta cruise boat and people are being urged to cheer them from decorated docks and viewing points along the shore.
The boat is scheduled to leave Nolan’s Point at 11 a.m. The Roxbury viewing site for people without lakefront property is Shore Hills Country Club.
“Right now, we expect there to not be any restrictions on boating,” said Lake Hopatcong Foundation Board of Trustees Chairman Marty Kane. “We expect the Veteran’s Cruise to go on.”
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