Lakefront homeowner Rich McFadden seems to think that Lake Hopatcong’s biggest problem isn’t the algae as much as “damage done by a hysterical media.” He told the Lake Hopatcong Commission his feelings at its July 8 meeting.
“Concerns can be more damaging than the problem,” he said of the algal bloom that has closed swimming beaches around the lake since late June.
McFadden was one of a number of residents who complained about the way the beach closings were handled at the meeting.
David Gedicke, owner of Lake’s End Marina in Landing, noted there was a blinking sign on Route 80 stating the lake was closed when only the swimming beaches were closed.
“We’ve got to get people back to the lake,” he said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has posted signs that the lake for is closed for swimming, water skiing, or jet skiing, but has not closed the lake for boating.
Jessica Murphy, president of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, said the foundation will be educating people about the situation starting this week at Lee’s County Park.
DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe attended the meeting after taking a boat tour of the lake. She said the swimming advisory would continue and strongly advised residents to keep pets and small children from the algal bloom. She said the DEP website would be continuously updated with information on water testing that continues at several locations.
The Foundation’s website is also updated frequently about the advisory.
Murphy also said the Water Scouts continue to check for water chestnuts. She said 40 were removed from near Liffy Island.
DEP liaison to the lake communities Kerry Kirk-Pflug said water scouts should not be pulling water chestnuts from the lake during the advisory, but she said the bloom has not migrated downstream to Lake Musconetcong so removal there is fine.
Social media has been full of information, some of it erroneous, Jefferson Township Mayor Eric Wilsusen noted.
Wilsusen said he was told the Windlass saw 25 percent fewer customers than expected on July 4, apparently mostly due to reduced boat traffic. He said Laurie Murphy of Dick Dow’s, also on Nolan’s Point, told him she was concerned about the messaging going out about “closing” the lake.
Commissioner Mark Fisch whose wife, Brenda Robinson, owns the Espanong Market and Café at Great Cove, said the lunch crowd has been down, but breakfast business is still strong.
Wilsusen said some marina owners are also concerned that messages have been unclear.