The Monmouth County Park System has confirmed that a “harmful algal bloom (HAB) is present in the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell NJ with levels quantified at or above the New Jersey Health Advisory Guidance.”
In an advisory message posted online, park system administrators warned the public “not to drink or have contact with the water (in the reservoir) including, but not limited to, swimming, wading and water sports. Fish caught in (the reservoir) should not be eaten. Pets and livestock should not contact or drink the water.”
As of Aug. 8, boat rentals have been suspended at the reservoir until further notice.
According to the park system website, the Manasquan Reservoir is a source of water for municipalities and utilities. The reservoir is also a natural setting for recreational activities and outdoor pursuits.
The New Jersey Sierra Club reacted to the situation by issuing a press release on Aug. 8 and stating that the reservoir “has succumbed to high levels of cyanobacteria that are above the New Jersey Health Advisory Guidance.”
“The Manasquan Reservoir now has harmful levels of toxic algae bloom. Levels of cyanobacteria are so high that swimming and fishing are discouraged. The reservoir joins the list of many New Jersey lakes that are under advisory or closed,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club.
“The conditions of our lakes are still bad and the problem has been spreading. The impacts of the Department of Environmental Protection’s failure to deal with overdevelopment and storm water runoff have created these blooms and they are not going to go away,” Tittel said. “The DEP needs to act now to protect our lakes and our critical drinking water.”
Freshwater HABs are formed from bacteria carried in by nutrients primarily from septics and lawn and garden fertilizer. The algae can cause severe skin rashes. If swallowed, the polluted water can cause abdominal pain, headaches and vomiting, according to the Sierra Club.