6 beaches on Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey cleared to reopen

LAKE HOPATCONG, New Jersey (WABC) -- Health officials in New Jersey have cleared six beaches to reopen on Lake Hopatcong following a harmful algae bloom that took over the body of water.

The Department of Environmental Protection lifted its advisory for six beaches stretching from Byram Bay to Halsey Island on the state's largest lake.

The DEP and New Jersey Department of Health advised local health officials that the following beaches can reopen: Pebble Beach, Sand Harbor, Bass Rock Beach, Sperry Springs Beach, Beck Lane Beach and CAPP Beach.

The Byram Bay Community Club Beach and Clearwater Beach remain under advisory and closed pending further water sampling.

"We are pleased that some areas of the lake are showing improvements and that these bathing beaches may now reopen," Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said. "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."

Using highly specialized sensors, the DEP's Division of Water Monitoring and Standards' aerial surveillance confirmed in June that large areas of the lake are experiencing cyanobacteria blooms.

Often referred to as blue-green algae, cyanobacteria are not true algae but are capable of excessive growth through photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria blooms are usually a bright green, but can also appear as spilled paint, "pea soup," or as having a thick coating or "mat" on the surface. These blooms can often be confused for typical algae blooms.

Exposure can cause a range of health effects, including rashes, allergy-like reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation, skin rashes and eye irritation.

Pets are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cyanobacteria and the toxins they produce and should not be allowed to drink or enter water where a bloom is suspected.

Straddled by Sussex, Passaic and Morris counties, Lake Hopatcong is New Jersey's largest lake and is a popular tourist and vacation destination.

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