Rep. Sherrill Meets with State and Local Officials to Discuss State Plan to Address Harmful Algal Blooms at Lake Hopatcong
Landing, NJ — Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) met yesterday with Governor Murphy and state and local officials to discuss harmful algal blooms (HABs) at Lake Hopatcong and the Governor’s proposal to invest $13.5 million statewide through an enhanced program of science-based prevention, mitigation, study, and response. The HAB at Lake Hopatcong this summer resulted in a recreational advisory which impacted residents and businesses surrounding the lake. Lake Hopatcong is the largest lake in New Jersey.
According to the Governor’s Office: The initiative will leverage both state and federal funds, including those available through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. It will offer principal forgiveness to offset infrastructure upgrades necessary to reduce the discharge of nutrient-laden runoff into waterbodies, one of the primary causes of harmful algal blooms.
After the meeting, Representative Sherrill said: “Every level of New Jersey’s government is working hard to ensure that we take steps to protect Lake Hopatcong and address the environmental and economic threats posed by HABs. That includes the Governor’s plan, community action in the towns surrounding the lake, and my own work on the House Science Committee to make sure grant funds available to the Great Lakes and South Florida are also available to New Jersey researchers studying HABs. The plan announced by the Governor today utilizes the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, and my colleagues and I in the House are pushing to increase this funding so we can bring federal dollars back to New Jersey and Lake Hopatcong.”
In addition to Representative Sherrill, in attendance were: Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05); Congressman Tom Malinowski (NJ-07); Senator Steve Oroho (LD-24); Assemblyman Hal Wirths (LD-24); Assemblyman Parker Space (LD-24); Senator Anthony M. Bucco (LD-25); Senator Joseph Pennacchio (LD-26); Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (LD-26); Morris Freeholders Heather Darling, Kathryn A. DeFillippo, Stephen H. Shaw, and Deborah Smith; Sussex Freeholders Herbert Yardley and Sylvia Petillo; Jefferson Mayor Eric Wilsusen; Hopatcong Mayor Michael Francis; Mount Arlington Mayor Michael Stanzilis; Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo; the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; the Lake Hopatcong Foundation; and the Lake Hopatcong Commission.
Excerpt of Representative Sherrill’s Remarks at the Event:
“Lake Hopatcong is not only the largest lake in New Jersey, but an iconic feature of North Jersey. Since the 1800s, this lake has served as an economic and environmental lynchpin. Generations have grown up learning to swim, or fish, or boat at the lake. I can’t tell you how many people from all over the region have told me what the lake has meant to them and their families.
“I went to Lake Hopatcong this summer to meet with Mayor Francis, Mayor Wilsusen, the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, and business leaders from local marinas and restaurants. I saw how quiet the lake was — with rows of boats docked at the marina instead of out enjoying a beautiful summer evening. I spoke with the owners of Bridge Marina, Lakeview Marina, and Stonewater Restaurant about the difficulties of maintaining their businesses this summer. They also shared their fears for the future of the lake if HABs continue.
“I alerted the Science, Space, and Technology Committee this summer about the conditions at Lake Hopatcong, and as Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairwoman, I’m working with the committee to advocate for funding and research dollars for HABs. My office just recently clarified language in an EPA research grant, to confirm that New Jersey researchers are eligible for grant-funding available to the Great Lakes and South Florida; grant funding that the Lake Hopatcong Foundation is now applying for.
“My colleagues and I in the New Jersey House delegation also passed funding measures this summer to help with HABs. That includes $6.25 million in funding to support research into the impact of HABs on human health, and $3.11 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (an increase of $345 million from last year). Today’s announcement from the Governor utilizes this program, and we are working in the House to increase that funding in New Jersey and nationwide.
“We also approved $90 million in funding to Section 221 Grants under the Clean Water Act – the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant Program. I will be pushing for robust investment in the Section 221 grant program as the House and Senate work on final appropriations negotiations. The Senate only provided for $20.5 million, compared to the House’s $90 million. That simply isn’t enough to help communities on the shores of Lake Hopatcong get the support they need. My team and I are committed to continuing to find ways to bring federal dollars back to New Jersey.”