MOUNT ARLINGTON – The phosphorus load in Lake Hopatcong has been reduced by 33 per cent over the past nine years, said Fred Lubnow, director of aquatics programs at Princeton Hydro, at the monthly Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting Monday night. 

“We’re really seeing some improvement in reduction of phosphorus – and that’s a good thing,” said Lubnow, who first presented the data at a recent meeting of the North American Lake Management Society. Princeton Hydro is the environmental consultant for Lake Hopatcong.

Lubnow also indicated that there has been a steady increase in clarity, reporting that in the time between 1990 and 2000, five of the 10 years saw an increase, in the 2000’s seven out of 10 years reported an increase and since 2010, the last three years has seen a significant increase in clarity.

“Lake Hopatcong is going in the right direction but we have to keep it going that way,” said Lubnow, mentioning that the lake still has very sensitive areas where clarity is still low and phosphorus content is still high, specifically River Styx, Crescent Cove and the north end of the lake in Jefferson.

Ludnow reported the storm water management projects funded by the 319(h) Grant have been completed and suggested the grant should now be transferred to the Lake Hopatcong Foundation who will continue to monitor the grant through 2014. The money remaining in the grant fund is earmarked for floating wetland islands in Ashley Cove and the continuation of the water quality monitoring program. Both projects will be supervised by the Foundation. The commission board will vote to transfer the grant at its January 2014 meeting.

Addressing Lubnow, Commissioner Fred Steinbaum, representing the state of New Jersey, asked if there had ever been a study done on boat pollution levels in the lake. Lubnow reported that no specific study has been conducted in recent years but that samples taken around the lake show that boat pollution is not a problem at Lake Hopatcong. Commission Kerry Kirk Pflugh, representing the NJ DEP, offered two programs available to promote clean boating; the Green Marina program and the Green Boater program, noting that only one marina on the lake, Bridge Marina, participates in the Green Marina program.

Dan Bello, environmental specialist with the Division of Parks and Forestry, reported the repair and maintenance of the weed harvesters is “on track” and everyone is “working hard to get everything ready” for the spring. He also reported the new volunteer program has produced two candidates who are ready to start helping with the repairs immediately.

Commissioner Dan McCarthy, representing Hopatcong, asked for a specific update on the two transport barges and the two smaller weed harvestingIMG_5066 machines, neither of which made it into the water last season. Bello said he would give an update on the status of each machine at the January meeting.

Bello also addressed the issue of limiting the length of docks to 50 feet, an issue that came up at the last commission meeting. After some research, Bello found that the Lake Hopatcong Regional Planning Board, the predecessor to the Lake Hopatcong Commission, declared that no docks, commercial or private, should exceed more than 50 feet in length from the shoreline.

In other business:

The commission voted on and passed the MOU for weed harvesting, renewing the program for one year under the same terms and conditions.

Commissioner Steinbaum reported the water level in the lake is up five inches from its lowest level during the dry month of November. Commissioner Kirk Pflugh reported the water level would continue to rise to the 26-inch drawdown level but the “only factor to take into account is ice and the potential for dock damage.”

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 13, at Hopatcong State Park.

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