Lake activities, including boating, entertainment, and dining continue unabated despite an advisory on the New Jersey side for a harmful algal bloom.
”Everybody’s hearing Greenwood Lake is closed and they think it’s the entire lake, where really it’s just a tiny little fraction,” said Greenwood Lake Marina owner Elena Dykstra. “And it’s not even closed, it’s just a warning.”
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection placed an advisory on the New Jersey side of the 7-mile bi-state lake on July 16 after cyanobacteria levels reached over 20,000 cells per milliliter.
The New York side of the lake, however, has remained open to all activities.
The marina will be anchoring its floating playground, called the Jungle Float, at Thomas P. Morahan Beach for three hours this Saturday just to show the public that the lake is open and swimming is still permitted.
While some believe that septic seepage and sewage overflow are the primary causes of the algae issues, according to The Breezy owner Paul Bailey, it’s only a small, isolated portion of the lower part of the lake that can even be affected by this kind of runoff.
“The rest of the lake is spring fed fresh water,” said Bailey.
Bailey is referring to the sand and gravel aquifer at the north end of Greenwood Lake, which has a large subsurface spring that discharges into the lake.
“The whole New York side is open and people are using it in full force,” Dykstra said.
According to New York Department of Environmental Conservation Representative Jackie Lendrum, New York does not necessarily take samples and measurements of algal blooms and cyanobacteria levels like New Jersey does.
Instead, New York identifies the blooms visually and then advises people to avoid the areas.
New York and New Jersey also have different protocols regarding posting advisories and closing public swimming areas.
Different states have different safety standard levels when it comes to algal bloom as well.
Local business owners from both sides of the lake expressed their frustrations over the media coverage of the NJ DEP advisory during a July 24 Greenwood Lake Commission meeting at West Milford's town hall.
“From what we can see from The Breezy, Greenwood Lake is still the number one lake destination in the area,” said Bailey. ”No bacteria bloom is going to change that view.”