Lake Hopatcong may be getting some help from Lake George.
Louise Davis, chair of the Morris County Soil Conservation District, attended the Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, to tell the commissioners the Lake George Association is interested in assisting an out-of-state lake.
Davis has a weekend home at Lake George and attended the association meeting this summer. She spoke to representatives of Rennsalear Polytechnic Institute and IBM who work with Lake George.
“Five years ago they decided they were going to have the smartest and cleanest lake,” she said. “And Lake George has been declared the cleanest lake in the world.”
She explained information from the water monitors on Lake George are put through Watson, IBM’s super-computer. “They know exactly where each contaminant comes into the lake,” she said. “They want to share what they are doing up there with us.”
“They want to help because fresh water is for everyone,” she said.
Davis said there are many things that Lake George is doing, including mandatory boat washing. The Lake George Association is afraid of outside contaminants from boats that have been on different lakes. People from Lake Hopatcong fish in Lake George and the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club is an affiliate with Lake George sailing clubs so the Lake George Association is concerned about contamination from Lake Hopatcong as well as other lakes.
“There have been no new invasives in Lake George since the boat washing started, she said.
Commissioner Fred Steinbaum, who has been to Lake George with his boat, said there are a number of washing stations on the way to the upstate New York lake, so there are not necessarily long lines to wait for boat washing.
Davis said she got an informal promise from an IBM executive that his company would pay for 50% of a boat washing station for Lake Hopatcong.
Environmental consultant Fred Lubnow of PrincetonHydro said he can include a recommendation for boat washing in the educational component of the revised Watershed Improvement Program (WIP) for the Upper Musconetcong River Watershed he is now working on.
Lubnow presented the draft of the revised plan to the commission at the meeting.
He started working on the draft before the algal bloom struck the lake this summer, he said, so he has had to add some recommendations to the WIP.
Since much of the phosphorus that fed the algal bloom enters the lake through the stormwater system, Lubnow identified 27 sites throughout the watershed for improvements to stormwater facilities.
He said some drainage sites, such as one on Brady Road, might require manufactured treatment devices but others could be improved with a “greener” solution.
“Some drainage basins are screaming to be vegetated,” he said, noting the one by the Quick-Chek in Hopatcong “is a flume ride for nutrients.”
State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe talked about stormwater solutions to HABs at the annual meeting of the Highlands Coalition in Oldwick on Wednesday, October 16.
In response to a question from Paul Zarrillo of the Greenwood Lake Commission about the differences between New York and New Jersey standards for cyanotoxins, McCabe said she isn’t comfortable with New York’s “loosey-goosey” approach to HABS, which she dubbed “I know it when I see it.”
She called for improvements to stormwater systems while debunking the accusations that the New Jersey was quick to close lakes because the governor wants to institute a “rain tax.”
“There’s no conspiracy. Our standards for closure have nothing to do with stormwater utilities.
Highlands Council Executive Director Lisa Plevin reported to the coalition that both Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake received Council grants to work on their WIPs. Revised WIPs will allow both lake commissions to apply for both DEP and federal Environmental Protection Agency grants.
At the commission meeting, Lubnow said he will come up with cost estimates for all of the needed work. He said the projects will be as shovel ready as possible when he applies for grants because that generally saves times and money.
He is checking prices on filter media that can be used in some basins. Commission Vice Chairman Dan McCarthy said among the files found in the former commission office was a box of paperwork including data on the catch basins. Commission secretary Colleen Lyons said the data has been scanned. Lubnow noted that is old data and the conditions of catch basins can change.
“Field assessment is important,” he said.
The WIP will contain recommendations for extensions to the sanitary sewer system around the lake, Lubnow said, specifically connection of the state park to the sewer line. Mount Arlington and Roxbury are 100% sewered and Hopatcong is about 40% sewered. Jefferson is on septics except for a few package plants, he said. Should the sewers be complete, including Lake Shawnee, about 80% of the phosphorus that feeds the algae would be removed.
Commission Department of Community Affairs representative Robert Tessier asked about the water quality downstream of Weldon Quarry.
Lyons said the DEP is checking sedimentation in the lake. She noted it is difficult to determine what comes from the quarry.
She said the DEP will investigate anything suspicious reported by the public. Lubnow noted “blue-green algae” isn’t necessarily blue-green. It can be white, red, grey or brown.