Sierra Club NJ reports 6.28.2019 – Trenton, NJ:

More NJ Beaches Closed Due to Dangerous Bacteria

Dangerous bacteria blooms are prompting advisories and forcing closures of more public swimming areas in New Jersey. The Spruce Run reservoir in Hunterdon County has been closed to swimmers for all but one day in June because of cyanobacteria blooms. The Hopatcong State Park beach was recently closed because of a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB). Now 7 other Lake Hopatcong beaches have also been closed over bacteria concerns. Lake Mohawk in Sparta is under an advisory, although swimming is still allowed. The Swartswood Lake State Park swimming area has reopened after closing because of a HAB earlier this month.

 “Our July 4 week is beginning, we’ll have temperatures in the 90s and some people won’t be able to swim because of closed beaches due to dangerous bacteria. The Spruce Run reservoir has been closed to swimming nearly every day in June. Spruce Run is not only an important recreation area but part of our biggest drinking water supply system. The bacteria is affecting not only our swimming, but clean drinking water. There are now 8 closed beaches on Lake Hopatcong. These closures are a direct result of our failure to adequately protect our watersheds. No one should have any contact with the water, including pets and livestock. Any fish caught in these polluted lakes should not be eaten. These are the consequences of failed policies to adequately protect our streams and waterways,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Bacteria blooms produce toxins that endanger human, pets, livestock and wildlife and can cause allergic skin reactions. They occur when simple plants that live in the water grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people.

When we fail to protect our waterways and eliminate environmental protections, we allow dangerous bacteria to bloom. Overdevelopment, failing septics and stormwater all contribute to the problem. Warmer temperatures and more rain means more runoff from overdevelopment and farms. That brings more nutrients and silts creating a witches’ brew in our lakes. Climate change will worsen those impacts. We’re creating a vicious cycle that will only bring higher temperatures, more rain and more pollution. More beaches and swimming areas will continue to close,” said Tittel.

The Murphy Administration has failed to reverse eight years of Christie Administration rollbacks on waterways that have led to increased pollution and overdevelopment. Those rollbacks weakened protections for stormwater, allowed development in environmentally sensitive areas that impacts water quality, and reduced protections for streams and stream buffers

 “The people who enjoy Spruce Run, Lake Hopatcong and our other lakes and state parks are now paying the price for our failure to take better care of our natural resources. The Murphy administration has not moved forward with watershed protections and reversing rollbacks. Gov. Christie-era rollbacks still in place eliminated stream buffers and filled in wetlands while getting rid of Septic Management Districts that would protect our waters. Stormwater pollution and runoff from septics and agricultural uses are bringing in nutrients and turning the lake into a polluted soup. The failure to invest more in our parks is worsening the problems. Rules continue to encourage overdevelopment and sprawl. As the summer heats up, we will only see more beaches and swimming areas closing,” said Jeff TIttel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.