Lake Musconetcong will not get to share the weed harvesting equipment belonging to the Lake Hopatcong Commission during the 2020 season.

The commission voted to deny a request from the Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board citing damage to the harvester loaned to the board in the past.

Chairman Ron Smith said the LMRPB has not paid for the damage done to one of the Commission’s two small harvesters. It was off Lake Hopatcong this season because the commission didn’t have the resources to repair it, he pointed out.

Commissioner Fred Steinbaum suggested the Musconetcong board pay for the repair now.

Fred Steinbaum explains the difficulties in determining the effects of
cyanotoxins. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Smith also said the small harvesters are important for areas of the lake too shallow for the big harvesters. Lake Musconetcong, which was created by damming the river for the Morris Canal, is entirely shallow.

Commissioner Mark Crawford, a Roxbury Township representative, is a member of the Lake Musconetcong Planning Board. He said the board has a $25,000 budget. Because it is a planning board, not a commission, it can assess each of the municipalities for fees, unlike the Lake Hopatcong Commission.

The Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board received a grant for a hydro-rake several years ago but wasn’t able to use it because they couldn’t find a place to dump the weeds. Crawford said testing showed a substance in the weeds they couldn’t find a place for. He said the grant was $300,000. Steinbaum said Lake Hopatcong could use a dredger.

State Department of Community Affairs representative to the commission Robert Tessier pointed out, “we’re all in this together” and suggested a negotiation for using each other’s equipment.

David Gedicke, owner of Lake’s End Marina in Landing, said a hydro-rake helped in Landing channel in previous years. The channel is shallow for the harvesters.

Resident John Kurzman pointed out a hydro-rake can be powerful and “what pertains to Lake Musconetcong may not pertain to Lake Hopatcong.” Others agreed the weeds might not be as hard to dispose of.

However, the commissioners opposed the LMRPB request with Crawford and the state appointees–Melissa Castellon, Robert Tessier and Todd Stevens–abstaining.

The algal bloom that left the lake closed to swimming for much of the summer was discussed, but not at the length it has been an earlier meetings.

Pat Rose of PrincetonHydro was filling in for Dr. Fred Lubnow for the meeting. Lubnow is attending a national algae conference.

Rose said all cyanotoxin levels were below the threshold for danger when the water was last tested.

Steinbaum, who is a doctor, noted that reaction to cyanotoxin is not a reportable disease and the rash that occurs in some people is not unlike other rashes, making it difficult to determine how many people had problems with the cyanotoxins.

PrincetonHydro is working on an updated watershed improvement plan which could result in some funding for the lake. He said Lubnow is presenting a draft to the Highlands Council on Sept. 27 and to the Commission at its October meeting.

In his report from the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, foundation board chairman Marty Kane said he is hopeful the fountain at the state park can be restored.

A vintage photo of the fountain at Hopatcong State Park. (Photo courtesy of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum)

“We hope to turn it on for a test,” Kane said, noting, “it would be good for morale and science,” meaning both that lake residents loved the fountain and that it helps with the health of the water downstream.

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