Lake Hopatcong beaches declared safe from toxic algae; pets are at risk


Swimming was allowed at six Lake Hopatcong beaches for the first time since late June, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced this week.

The DEP lifted its harmful algal bloom advisory for Pebble Beach, Sand Harbor, Bass Rock Beach, Sperry Springs Beach, Beck Lane Beach and CAPP Beach after water samples taken showed acceptable levels of algae.

The beaches stretch from Byram Bay to Halsey Island in the northwestern portion of New Jersey’s largest lake, but nearby Byram Bay Beach and Clearwater Beach were still closed but could be reopened by this weekend if the samples come back with lower levels, the DEP said.

“We are pleased that some areas of the lake are showing improvements and that these bathing beaches may now reopen,” DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said in a release. “At the same time, the public must remain mindful of the possible presence of harmful algal blooms and avoid contact in areas where a bloom has been detected, especially when it comes to small children and pets.”

Over the last three weeks, the DEP lifted the advisory for nearby Henderson Cove and its bordering Indian Harbor.

The DEP warned that swimming and water sports such jet-skiing, water-skiing, paddle-boarding, canoeing or kayaking should be avoided outside of the areas where the advisory was lifted.

Bacteria in the blooms can cause a skin rash if touched. If the water is consumed, it can cause abdominal pain, headaches, vomiting, nausea, and blistering around the mouth and flu-like symptoms, health officials have said.

Pets are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cyanobacteria and the toxins the produce and should not be allowed to drink or enter water where a bloom is suspected. Dogs throughout the country have been reportedly dying from exposure to the bacteria, but there have been no reported incidents in New Jersey.

Even though the samples taken by DEP have not show a level of toxicity that could cause these more serious health effects, the state warned that that blooms may begin producing cyanotoxins at any time.

Click here for the latest listings of the affected, and unaffected, New Jersey Lakes

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