To the Editor:

Lake Hopatcong is in dire need of serious, fact-based attention. Our local Lake-based economy, our property values, and our way of life is at risk. Based upon an intensive presentation by the Lake Hopatcong Commission at Hopatcong High School on July 22, I am of the fact-based opinion that local, county, and state leadership has had decades of fact-based warning that our water quality crisis was coming if we did not act to prevent it. We are paying an Incompetence Tax for the multigenerational failures of elected leadership.

A multi-pronged approach was detailed to mitigate nutrient rich stormwater runoff, and past failures of funding were outlined in their historical context. Lake Hopatcong has never been a consistent municipal, county, or state priority. The Lake Hopatcong Commission (LHC) demonstrated, with fact-based bar graphs, the phosphate levels relative to funding levels over time. It is time to admit that elected leaders have failed our lake communities and our local economy. Why do we keep re-electing and sometimes promoting the same authors of the Incompetence Tax?

The LHC showed that the resources required by our lake have stayed largely consistent in similar assessments published over the past 40 years. These advisories have been ignored or underfunded at every level of government. What Lake Hopatcong needs is sustained stakeholder input from those who live, work, and play around it – or the harmful algal bloom (HAB) could become the norm, and we could all lose access to this precious resource.

The pragmatic, fact-based plan presented by Fred Lubnow at Princeton Hydro was, predictably, met with derision by elected leaders. Ill-informed references to a “rain tax” were voiced. That lie is killing the lake. And yes, lakes do die.

Watershed management costs money. The lake is starved of resources. This is a math and behavior problem…the science is done. As the communities that benefit from the tourism and economic vitality that the lake provides, we need to invest in it. We need to take storm-water management seriously, and we need infrastructure upgrades that stop polluted storm-water from pouring into our lake. We need regional collaboration. It can’t just be one town, it needs to be all of our towns. Storm-water utilities offer us this major opportunity.

Our leadership failed us at that meeting. We must all vote for fresh leadership locally and in the Assembly to pressure the State help stabilize long-term investment in the tourism cash cow that is Lake Hopatcong. The lake’s life depends on your informed vote. Vote “no” on the Incompetence Tax by voting yes to new leadership.

Victoria Nadler, Hopatcong NJ

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