Story by A.J. Arias
Residents continued to voice their frustrations regarding the New Jersey Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) and the lasting impacts it has had on Greenwood Lake at the Greenwood Lake Commission meeting on Wed., Aug. 28.
Several residents, including Commissioner George Vurno, expressed their frustrations with the lake and how their high lake-front property taxes do not properly reflect the value of their homes.
“Living on Greenwood Lake is a disadvantage, not an advantage,” Vurno stated.
Brown’s Point resident Bridgette Gobes added, “My home is worthless, where is my tax value?”
Vurno continued on to say that if residents were to appeal their taxes there could be a chance that it gets the attention of the government, whose funding is desperately needed in order to fight the HAB and the factors that caused it. Funding, or the lack thereof, has continued to be a theme for the Greenwood Lake Commission as the efforts to clean up the lake continue.
It was noted during the meeting that Lake Hopatcong, which has also been struggling with the impacts of HAB, as are many other lakes throughout the country, receives $500,000 in annual funding from the New Jersey State Legislature while Greenwood Lake receives no funding from either New York or New Jersey.
The lack of funding has become such an issue that when a gentleman from LG Sonic appeared in front of the commission with a potential solution to the HAB, its large price tag of $50,000 per ultrasonic algal control buoy before permits and fees seemed completely out of reach for a commission that currently has $87,000 in the bank for both sides of the lake after outstanding expenses.
Dr. Meiyin Wu from Montclair State University returned to give an update on the results she found after last months study on the lake directly following the first signs of the HAB.
The in-depth study echoed the ones done by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which continues to be the determining factor in the lifting of the public advisory that closed a number of public beaches around the New Jersey end of the lake. Currently the New Jersey DEP, which tests the water twice a week, continues to find levels of cyanobacteria above 100,000 cells/mL, which are considered to be high risk for swimmers by scientists. The New Jersey DEP threshold for lifting the advisory is 20,000 cells/mL.
When asked if cooler temperatures will help with the HAB, Dr. Wu stated that HABs have been found even when a lake is iced over. Dr. Wu said that the cooler temperatures will slow down the cyanobacteria, but won’t necessarily solve the problem.
Dr. Wu recommended that the commission continue to do monthly testing to monitor the HAB and potential solutions but stated that if funds were not available, a seasonal testing would still be strongly recommended to monitor the lake’s dramatic changes throughout the year. New Jersey Co-Chair Paul Zarrillo said he would discuss with Dr. Wu pricing for a 6-8 month term of testing
The next meeting will be on Wed., Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at the West Milford Township Library, located at 1470 Union Valley Rd. in West Milford, NJ.