Story by A.J. Arias
The Greenwood Lake Bi-State Commission issued a press release on Wed., Jul. 17 alerting all local residents that there has been a harmful algal bloom (HAB) on the New Jersey end of Greenwood Lake.
The HAB makes it dangerous to come into contact with the water on the New Jersey end, which is currently open to boating and fishing but all contact with the water should be restricted, according to the press release.
Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer wrote in his column, published in this issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch: “Since we originally learned about the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJ DEP) detection of HABs (hazardous algae blooms), we have taken several steps to identify if there are any HABs present in the New York side. At this point, there is ZERO evidence of HABs on the New York side of Greenwood Lake. Typical algae is often confused with harmful algae.”
Montclair State University conducted studies along 17 points of the lake throughout New York and New Jersey on Fri., Jul. 19. Results will be available within a week. The study will test nine different elements and will be used as a guide to determine the water’s safety after the HAB.
Prior to the announcement of the studies, Dr. Meiyin Wu, Director of Passaic River Institute and biology professor at Montclair State, said that testing should happen immediately after news of the HAB first broke out. Wu has been involved in the recent studies performed on Greenwood Lake.
When asked about the potential spreading of the HAB from the New Jersey end to the New York end of the Lake, Wu stated, “Cyanobacteria [Algae] are bacteria that are suspended in water. Their whereabout[s] is influenced by wind and water current. You are likely to find a higher concentration of cyanobacteria at the leeward side of the lake [New Jersey end]. Additionally, cyanotoxins [Harmful toxin from algae] are compounds in water. As any other chemical compound in water, it disperses from an area with a higher concentration to an area with a lower concentration [from New Jersey to New York].”
However, Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer said there is little to no chance of the HAB spreading to another part of the lake. He said, “Conditions must be met throughout the entire lake for algae to bloom at toxic levels throughout the entire lake. I am not saying the N.Y. end of the lake may not see the HABs develop eventually, what I am saying is HABs have not developed on the New York side at this point. Rising temperatures and runoff from rain could potentially increase the chance of HABs forming further north.”
HABs have been present as of late in several lakes in New Jersey including Darlington County Park in Mahwah and Lake Wawayanda in Vernon. The cause of the HABs is extreme high temperatures and the lakes’ eutrophication [high levels of phosphorus], according Meiyin Wu who has been conducting studies on Greenwood Lake for the last several years. Wu said that the lake has been experiencing this eutrophication for years on both ends of the lake and that it is very likely the cyanoalgal bloom could happen on the New York end of the lake as well.
Based off the studies Wu has conducted, the latest results of which were presented in March of 2019, the two areas that have been recorded with the highest levels of phosphorus on Greenwood Lake are around Belcher’s Creek in New Jersey as well as other areas on the northern part of the New York end.
Both the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are closely monitoring the situation. Public officials have been urging any residents who are concerned about the situation to reach out to either department for more information.
Dwyer stated, “The Village of Greenwood Lake has been working with and in constant communication with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC), NJ DEP, Lake Commission, Town of Warwick and our Greenwood Lake Police Department during this process. The NJ DEP did a flyover of Greenwood Lake, the Village hired a drone company to survey the entire lake, the NY DEC inspected the New York portion of the lake and we remain confident that there are NO signs of HAB in the New York portion of Greenwood Lake.”
G.L. Commission Meeting
The Greenwood Lake Commission will hold a meeting on Wed., Jul. 24 at 7 p.m. at the West Milford Town Hall, located at 1480 Union Valley Rd. in West Milford, N.J.