North Carolina is no stranger to algal blooms. Hot summers, runoff from agricultural and urban lands combine with shallow, slow moving estuaries create conditions that cause harmful algal blooms (HABs). While common in our State, its becoming more common in areas to our north. Minnesota, Lake Michigan, and the Chesapeake Bay are all experienced in dealing with HABs.
A story from New Jersey illustrates how warmer summers are helping fuel the occurrence of HABs in areas to our north. Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey’s largest freshwater Lake and a popular summertime retreat experienced a severe bloom prompting the State’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to shut down the Lake for recreational use around the July 4th Holiday. Their press release read:
“DEP is recommending that local health authorities close all public swimming beaches along the lake due to the widespread nature of the bloom…avoid all contact with water from Lake Hopatcong until further notice. People also should not eat fish caught in the lake or allow pets to come in contact with lake water or drink the water.”
This is certainly what no State wants to have happen to their recreational waters. Indeed, North Carolina is in the final steps of a years long process to shore up its nutrient strategies to reduce the occurrences of HABs. These efforts are desperately needed to curb a problem which is becoming more pervasive.