One resolution and two legislative bills proposed by Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-26) have been officially introduced in Trenton to help the Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake communities deal with harmful algal blooms (HABs) that prompted advisories against swimming in both lakes during the height of this summer’s beach and boating season.
One bill, A-5763, will increase the state’s annual funding to the Lake Hopatcong Commission from $500,000 to $4 million annually for maintenance at New Jersey’s largest lake.
“The state advisories against swimming at Lake Hopatcong went into effect in June, and most of the lake still remains under state advisories as we approach the Labor Day weekend. The situation is destroying local businesses and preventing residents from enjoying their properties,” said Assemblywoman DeCroce. “We need fast action on my legislation to deal with the stormwater run-off and pollutants causing this situation. The lake community cannot endure another disastrous summer season.”
A second bill, A-5762 requires the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to evaluate the state’s ability to install sewer service at homes and businesses that abut Lake Hopatcong in Jefferson Township and Hopatcong Borough. In the alternative, the bill requires the state to create tax credits to subsidize the cost of homeowners and businesses more frequently pumping effluent from their septic systems to prevent pollutants from entering Lake Hopatcong.
HABs, which have been impacting lakes and ponds throughout the state this season, have been traced by DEP scientists to nutrients and pollution flushed into waterways from roadways, lawns and septic systems. Officials with the DEP and Lake Hopatcong Commission said the algal outbreaks throughout Lake Hopatcong this year are the largest in state history and mark the first time the entire lake has been impacted.
The algal blooms at Greenwood Lake have been impacting coves in West Milford since July, and recently prompted the cancelation of a popular boating event this past weekend.
AR-267, a resolution introduced by Assemblywoman DeCroce, urges New York to join New Jersey in efforts to improve the water quality of Greenwood Lake. The resolution notes the lake spans both states and, while the HABs only impacted West Milford coves this summer, joint action is needed before the problem spreads throughout the lake.
“I have shared the wording of my resolution with New York Assemblyman Karl Brabenec. We have been working together in the hopes the two states will commit to a joint plan to protect Greenwood Lake. I also have introduced a bill and support other legislation to provide Greenwood Lake with the type of annual maintenance funding from the state already available to Lake Hopatcong,” said Assemblywoman DeCroce.
The Assemblywoman introduced A-5078 in February, well before the HABs developed, requiring the state to provide annual appropriations of $4 million through Fiscal Year 2034 for developmental activists and tourism promotion at both Greenwood Lake and Lake Hopatcong. Legislative action on that bill is pending.