New Jersey DEP Awards $2.5 Million to Fight Harmful Algal Blooms

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded $2.5 million in grants for nine local projects to mitigate and prevent harmful algal blooms (HABs) in New Jersey.

According to Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe, the grants will fund a variety of projects designed to evaluate the effectiveness of various treatment and prevention technologies, including filtration systems, products to neutralize bloom-causing nutrients, high-tech oxygen bubblers and floating wetland islands.

“We are eager to evaluate these technologies and strategies, then share what we learn with communities across the state so that we can better prevent and mitigate these events,” said McCabe. 

Governor’s Plan

This grant program is part of Gov. Phil Murphy’s $13.5 million plan to mitigate and prevent harmful algal blooms, which affected 39 water bodies in 2019, including two of the state’s largest lakes, North Jersey’s Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake.

The distribution of monies was welcomed by State Sens. Anthony Bucco, Joe Pennacchio and Steve Oroho.

“Last summer, we experienced the pain of what can happen when lakes are closed to the public,” said Sen. Oroho (R-24). “Clean, healthy lakes are vital to recreation and local business. Boating, fishing and swimming activities are integral for lake community towns to prosper. These grants provide badly needed funds to help maintain the vitality of Lake Hopatcong and other lakes for the benefit of local towns and the State.”

Hopatcong, Greenwood Lakes

The Lake Hopatcong Commission will receive $500,000 for a 24-month project that includes nutrient reduction, direct treatment and habitat modification, while the borough of Hopatcong,will use a $145,680 grant over the next year to demonstrate the effectiveness of bottom-diffused aeration and prevention of harmful algal blooms at Crescent Cove in Lake Hopatcong. 

The Greenwood Lake Commission will use $52,800 to evaluate ongoing strategies and best management practices to address nutrient input from Belcher Creek, which the commission has identified as a significant contributor to nutrients in the lake. 

“The grant money is vital for investing in methods to mitigate environmental issues that flow from the creek,” said Sen. Pennacchio (R-26). “It is my hope that this is the beginning of a partnership that can ensure that the quality of our water in all New Jersey lakes is maintained to a pristine condition. I am encouraged the State is taking this initial step to help in the upkeep of both Greenwood Lake and Lake Hopatcong. ”

Lake Mohawk Country Club and the Lake Mohawk Preservation will use a grant of $160,920 for a two year project to demonstrate the effectiveness of non-copper algaecides and phosphorous inactivators. 

Grants Help Communities

“This is the good news we’ve been waiting for, and our hope is the State is beginning to recognize its responsibility to maintain these valuable assets,” said Sen. Bucco (R-25). “The grants will fund projects that are crucial for the lakes and the communities surrounding the lakes.”

HABs naturally occur in lakes and ponds, as the algae-like bacteria causes these blooms to proliferate to unsafe levels under certain conditions, including warm weather, stagnant waters and sunshine.

Other grants awarded in North Jersey include: 

  • Newark’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities, $475,000, for a 36-month project to prevent harmful algal blooms in reservoirs serving its Pequannock Water Treatment Plant. The city plans to use ultrasonic devices to disrupt the photosynthesis of bacteria. The primary focus of the project will be Echo Lake in Passaic County.
  • Mount Olive Township, $365,000, for a 36-month project to reduce nutrient loadings to Budd Lake through additional mechanical controls of excessive aquatic weeds. The township will evaluate herbicide treatment of blooms and monitor water quality for early signs for possible herbicide treatment.
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology, $500,000, for installation and evaluation of floating mobile platforms in Branch Brook Lake in Essex County with micro-nano bubble generators. These machines pump microscopic bubbles into the water column to improve dissolved oxygen. The 36-month project will also include development of a long-term harmful algal bloom strategy for Branch Brook Lake.

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