One remnant of the algal bloom that devastated Lake Hopatcong this summer remains in near Byram Bay, Melissa Castellon of Hopatcong State Park told the Lake Hopatcong Commission on Tuesday, November 12.
Marty Kane of the Lake Hopatcong Commission reminded the commission that algal blooms are common in October and the bloom was widespread in October, a continuation of the summer bloom.
“The algae that feeds the bloom is always in the water,” Kane pointed out.
Castellon reminded those at the meeting they can call the state Department of Environmental Protection’s hotline when they see anything unusual. The number is 1-877-WARNDEP.
Castellon reported the annual 22-inch drawdown was started on Saturday, November 9, but heavy rain had sent the lake over the dam.
Commissioner Anne Pravs asked why the drawdown was 22 inches.
Castellon explained the lake drawdown was reduced from 26 to 22 inches after a Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) meeting a few years ago. The drop was a pilot program, she said.
Pravs said there has not been another CAC meeting and there should be, because water level management should come from the citizens. Chairman Ron Smith said the DEP has not been responsive to requests for another meeting.
Castellon said she has not received a response from either Mt. Arlington or Hopatcong about designated representatives. Pravs said the Mt. Arlington DPW supervisor was the borough’s representative the last time there was a meeting. Commissioner Fred Steinbaum said he represented Hopatcong last time and would do it again.
Also in her DEP report, Castellon said the small weed harvester is being repaired and should be on the lake in the spring.
With the summer season over, a winter concern came up at the meeting.
Ice retardant systems are used by dock owners to protect the structures. A commission subcommittee has been studying various systems for a year and a half, Commissioner Todd Stevens said.
Steinbaum said he originally thought the new “ice eaters” could be kept on the lake as long as they are controlled by a timer and a temperature gauge. Seasonal residents often set timers and temperature controls when they are away for the winter.
However, Steinbaum said, he now thinks the new machines should be banned and the older “bubblers” be required for people who choose to use retardants. The bubblers have less power and create a smaller ring of open water around the docks.
Larger expanses of open water are dangerous to skaters and ice boaters, especially when snow covers areas of thin ice or visibility is lowered. Steinbaum admitted he bought an ice eater but now would not want to see them used.
Chairman Ron Smith said the four mayors will discuss ice retardant systems at their next meeting because they will have to be controlled by local ordinance and inspected by municipal employees.