July 2, 2019

Contact: Ed Potosnak, (732) 991-7574
Julia Somers (973) 588-7190


Action Needed: Toxic Algal Bloom Threatens Major Economic Lifeline and States’ Largest Lake

Yesterday, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection released an advisory for the public to avoid contact with Lake Hopatcong water due to a toxic algal bloom – the largest lake in New Jersey and a major economic lifeline in the New Jersey Highlands. Strong action is needed by local decision-makers to improve the health of the lake and protect this major cultural icon.

“On the weekend prior to Independence Day, one of the biggest weekends for tourism in NJ, we are seeing the drastic and dangerous impacts of our failing stormwater management infrastructure. Lake Hopatcong, a major cultural icon, an environmental gem, and economic driver of the New Jersey Highlands is in dire condition from a massive, potentially toxic algal bloom,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “The last few months have been especially wet, exhibited by the fact that last year was the wettest year on record. Lake Hopatcong is dealing with an algal bloom that was spurred by the lack of effective stormwater management. Hazardous water quality and toxic algal blooms are going to continue unabated and potentially worsen if the local communities don’t band together and take action to address polluted stormwater runoff – options are available”

Governor Murphy, earlier this year, signed the bipartisan Stormwater Utility Bill into law. The Stormwater Utility Bill gives New Jersey communities the authority to better defend themselves against damaging flooding and hazardous polluted stormwater runoff, and protect our clean water from polluted runoff.

The bill empowers New Jersey counties and municipalities — on a purely voluntary basis — to opt-in to create much-needed, community-based stormwater programs that control local flooding and reduce pollution. The legislation makes our neighborhoods cleaner, greener and safer – and can help create good, local jobs. 

“A regional approach to stormwater management is essential to the further wellbeing of the lake, and with that, the regional economy of the Highlands,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. “The Stormwater Utility Bill provides Lake Hopatcong communities with a powerful tool to manage stormwater and prevent dangerous water quality conditions that dismantle the recreational and economic value of the lake. We are willing and look forward to working with Lake Hopatcong communities to effectively address stormwater management, a major source of pollution driving this rapid decline in lake health.”

With stormwater runoff becoming an increasingly prevalent problem, frequent flooding is polluting New Jersey waterways and causing millions of dollars of damage, snarling traffic, threatening drinking water and even endangering lives. Stormwater management infrastructure is a $16 billion problem. Now, New Jersey communities that opt-in can join 1,800 other communities across the country to equip themselves with this essential tool.


New Jersey League of Conservation Voters is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to elect environmental champions, hold public officials accountable, and support laws which protect our environment and improve the quality of people’s lives.

New Jersey Highlands Coalition represents a diverse network of organizations — small and
large, local, regional, statewide and national — and individuals. Their mission is to represent their common goal to protect, enhance and restore the New Jersey Highlands and to preserve the quality and quantity of drinking water both for the 850,000 people in the Highlands as well as the more than five million people in surrounding areas who depend on Highlands water.