Lake Mohawk Preservation Foundation
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Experts offer ways to combat algal blooms

The creation of rain gardens and stormwater utilities were a couple of the points a panel of experts offered on Tuesday night at the Lake Mohawk Country Club during a special informational meeting about harmful algal blooms.

More than 300 people from as far away as Bergen County crowded the country club’s ballroom for the meeting, which started at 7:30 p.m. and continued past 10, to hear the perspectives of three panelists about the algal blooms that have paralyzed lakes throughout the state with no-swimming advisories. The panelists discussed long-term management plans they suggested would be helpful to mitigate the blooms.

The panelists were Stephen J Souza, Ph.D., founding partner of Princeton Hydro and owner of Clear Waters Consulting LLC.; James F. Cosgrove, founder of Omni Environmental Group LLC and vice president of Kleinfelder Inc.; and Christopher C. Obropta, Ph.D., extension specialist in water resources with Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Obropta is also a professor at Rutgers School of Environmental & Biological Sciences.

Each panelist presented a segment during the program, which was hosted by the non-profit Lake Mohawk Preservation Foundation and co-sponsored with the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, the New Jersey Highlands Coalition and the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.

Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, was the event moderator and read audience-submitted questions on index cards to the panelists. Audience members were also able to ask questions from a microphone stationed at the room’s front.

Souza explained the differences between harmless and harmful bloom varieties. The harmful type contains cyanobacteria, which can cause health complications in humans, pets and livestock, and can have a detrimental impact on lake ecosystems. Souza said particular treatments, such as using copper to counter the blooms, can temporarily relieve lakes, but can cause the bacteria to release phosphorus, the nutrient that feeds the blooms. Souza said one pound of phosphorus can produce 1,000 pounds of algae.

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