Weeds floating on the surface of Lake Hopatcong serve as a grim reminder of the suspension of harvesting for the 2020 season, but the Lake Hopatcong Commission is attempting to clear weeds for the last of the season.

At the commission meeting Monday, August 10, Chairman Ron Smith said he is nearly ready with a set of specifications to send out to potential bidders. Once the specs are sent out, contractors have 10 days to respond, so the commission can call a special meeting to award the bid, Smith said.

Other work to clean the lake is starting as well.

The Morris County Park Commission received a $495,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for green infrastructure initiatives to mitigate non-point source pollution at Lee’s County Park, Commission Secretary Colleen Lyons explained.

The county will install curb cuts and grading improvements to the park, which is on Howard Boulevard in Mount Arlington, according to a DEP press release. Stormwater will be directed to five bioretention basins for the reduction of phosphorus, nitrogen, total suspended solids and other pollutants. In addition, the county will retrofit eight stormwater inlets to the lake with manufactured treatment devices for removal of nutrients and sediments.

Fred Lubnow of PrincetonHydro, the commission’s environmental consultant, said he will reach out to the county to see exactly what they will be implementing. “Do they have a modeling plan?” he asked rhetorically. “Once they get an engineer on site it may change.”

The county’s work parallels work the commission is having done under its grant for mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB). Lubnow said he is looking for a contractor to clear two stormwater structures in Hopatcong and replace them with Biochar, a material that removes phosphorous. He said Salmon Brothers of Stanhope is normally the contractor for these jobs, but they are booked up.

PrincetonHydro’s J. P. Bell and Scott Churm are doing a “green clean” in Ashley Cove in preparation for four biochar installations. Lubnow explained a green clean is the application of a non-copper algicide.

Hottest July

The intense heat in July has turned most bodies of water green from blooms, Lubnow said. He said data indicates July was the second hottest on record, with an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, which is about 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat continues a long-term trend, he said.

PrincetonHydro is focusing on stormwater and septic solutions, he said.

“The ultimate solution is sewering,” Robert Tessier, state Department of Community Affairs representative to the commission, said.

Lubnow admitted septic systems won’t take care of total suspended solids. He said Jefferson Township is updating its sewer feasibility study, which was last done in the early 2000s, but, at the time, could not attract state or federal funding.

Jefferson has the largest area that is not sewered. Hopatcong Borough is sewering Hudson Avenue, one of the last areas of the borough not already sewered. The state park has plans to hook into the Musconetcong Sewer Authority line in Landing.

“We will need the cooperation of the Highlands Council,” to sewer in Jefferson, Commissioner Fred Seinbaum said.

Lubnow noted the Council has been open to discussion because they recognize the need.

Geese

Commissioner Tom Foley asked what was being done about the goose problem. Geese contribute much phosphorus to the lake.

Lubnow said they can collect samples in the area where geese nest. He also said any lakefront not used for a beach or dock should be planted with tall grass, which is a deterrent to the geese because it prevents them from seeing predators. He also said the commission can embark on a program to addle goose eggs. Addling is shaking the newly laid eggs so they won’t hatch. He said when geese realize their eggs aren’t hatching they will move elsewhere.

PrincetonHydro invited Brian Cramer and Jack Turner of GreenVest, a contractor that works with many problem lakes, to make a presentation to the Commission.

Cramer said GreenVest is in partnership with many public agencies around the country.

He said they do many projects to mitigate pollution and would work closely with PrincetonHydro.

GreenVest works with Hannon Armstrong, a private financial firm that can provide funding for lake cleaning projects. The firm can enable a public entity to float a bond that can be paid off over time, Cramer said. He said Hannon Armstrong charges a low interest rate.

Cramer said if the Commission is interested, GreenVest can propose a suite of projects.

Turner said they can show the Commission a list of projects GreenVest has done. They will provide the Commission with more details so they can decide if they want to work with GreenVest.

Land Use

The Commission reviews any land use project in the four surrounding municipalities that might impact the lake.

Tessier, who chairs the Commission’s land use subcommittee, said he is frustrated with the behavior of the boards. He said a number of recent applications have been for an increase in impervious cover, which is detrimental to the lake, and the boards are quick to approve these requests. He said the subcommittee will meet to discuss possible strategies for obtaining better cooperation.

Lyons said in some cases the municipalities seem to be listening.

Steinbaum said the commission had stopped overseeing applications when it lost funding.

“I feel we’re making progress,” he said.

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