By: Kyle Richter
If you have had the opportunity to visit Hopatcong State Park recently, you might have noticed there has been a lot of commotion. Over the last several months, the State Park has received some much-needed upgrades that will help to protect and improve water quality in Lake Hopatcong.
Most notably, the main pavilion, with a concession stand and restrooms, has been removed from a septic system and connected to a sewer system. This critical upgrade will greatly reduce the amount of added nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, coming into the lake from the park. Too many nutrients in the lake can act as a fertilizer for weeds and algae, possibly contributing to algal blooms and reducing water quality.
Additionally, the rain garden next to the main pavilion has been revitalized, replanted, and mulched. This rain garden helps to filter out pollutants from runoff from the roof of the building as well as the parking lot before the water can make it to the lake. Many thanks go out to our friends at the Wallkill River Watershed Management Group for helping to lead this effort and providing the planting plan.
On May 25, officials and representatives gathered to celebrate the great work being accomplished to help protect Lake Hopatcong at Hopatcong State Park and to kick off summer 2021. Representative Mikie Sherrill, NJDEP Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette, State Senators Tony Bucco and Steven Oroho, Hopatcong Mayor Mike Francis, Jefferson Township Mayor Wilsusen, Roxbury Township Mayor DeFillippo, and representatives from NJDEP and Morris and Sussex Counties were all in attendance.
Our own board chair, Marty Kane, kicked off the event by welcoming everyone and providing an overview of all the efforts the Foundation and Lake Hopatcong Commission, in partnership with NJDEP and the four municipalities around the lake, are doing to improve water quality in Lake Hopatcong. Representative Sherrill, Acting Commissioner LaTourette, Senators Bucco and Oroho, and each of the mayors spoke on federal, state, and local efforts to prevent and mitigate Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), like the one that affected Lake Hopatcong in 2019.
After the press event, the Foundation hosted a tour of the lake aboard our Floating Classroom for attendees, including Acting Commissioner LaTourette, and Senators Bucco and Oroho. This provided the opportunity for a firsthand look at some of the demonstration projects that have been implemented to help mitigate HABs and to talk about issues impacting Lake Hopatcong.
We are so appreciative of the strong support from our elected officials and partners in our efforts to foster a vibrant and healthy Lake Hopatcong for this and future generations.