Harmful algal blooms across NJ: Where is it safe to swim?
Roughly a dozen bodies of water across New Jersey have seen an abrupt halt to water activities at some point this summer amid reported harmful algal blooms.
As of Thursday, Aug. 8, Manasquan Reservoir in Monmouth County was the latest to ban swimming, fishing and other water sports amid development of a cyanobacteria-laden bloom.
"Do not drink or have contact with the water including, but not limited to, swimming, wading, and water sports. Fish caught in this water body should not be eaten. Pets and livestock should not contact or drink the water," was the warning posted by the Monmouth County Parks System, as the Reservoir levels quantified at or above the state Health Advisory Guidance.
Exposure to HAB may cause allergy-like reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation and eye irritation. The DEP previously has said the blooms could be a result of recent heavy rainfall carrying nutrient-rich stormwater into the water, followed by spans of warm weather.
The reservoir is part of the system that provides tap water to several Monmouth County communities, but the advisory did not warn against drinking or using the treated water.
There are a variety of different safeguards in place to ensure the safety of source waters, which are constantly being monitored, according to Ken Klipstein, Director of Watershed Protection Programs for the NJ Water Supply.
The Manasquan Water Treatment Plant provides 60% of potable water consumed by the communities of Brielle, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights and Wall.
The Water Supply Authority’s Manasquan System is a public community water system with source water that comes from both Manasquan Reservoir and Manasquan River, according to the Water Supply Authority.
Spruce Run Reservoir in Hunterdon County has been under a harmful algal bloom advisory since June 15, with swimming and other water activities banned amid high levels of cyanobacteria.
The 11 billion gallon water storage reservoir is part of a water supply system that also consists of Round Valley Reservoir and the Delaware & Raritan Canal Transmission Complex.
Klipstein also confirmed that tap water from the system that traces back to Spruce Run, among other water sources, remains safe to drink, in relation to the HAB.
Another body of water dealing with invasive HABs this summer is Lake Hopatcong.
After small blooms were reported June 17, conditions worsened rapidly, leading to the DEP’s June 27 ban on swimming, recreational use and contact with water. After weeks of the entire lake being impacted, the DEP advisory was lifted in Indian Harbor and Henderson Cove, as of Aug. 1.
“Bacteria levels do remain high in the majority of the lake," DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe said in an update, adding the DEP recommends that the public avoid bodily contact with Lake Hopatcong water in areas beyond Indian Harbor and Henderson Cove.
The beach at Budd Lake in Mount Olive was closed on Aug. 1 by the township's recreation department, with a ban on swimming that remains in place.
Greenwood Lake in West Milford remains under an HAB advisory since mid-July.
Lake Musconetcong and Swartswood Lake in Sussex Counties also are under an HAB advisory, discouraging direct contact with the water or eating fish caught in either lake.
Rosedale Lake in Pennington and the Deal and Sunset Lakes in Asbury Park have continued HABs as of Aug. 8.
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