across the country (and around the world). Warmer temperatures and increased availability of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous from runoff, cause algae to multiply in such a way that they can produce toxic substances, making water unsafe. This summer, Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey is an example of one of those locations.
A factor greatly impacting the algae growth is outdated sewer and stormwater systems. With increased rainfall, these systems are unable to perform efficiently, sending overflow into area waterways. The question that arises is how to pay for the necessary improvements, the EPA having estimated that New Jersey’s system needs $16 million in upgrades. A possible solution is the introduction of stormwater utilities, which are “a mechanism for localities to charge fees to property owners based on how much stormwater runoff they generate.” Although this option exists in 40 states, the idea has become politically charged in New Jersey as many see it as a “rain tax,” and a considerable percentage of the population is opposed to any additional taxes.
Addressing the problem isn’t just one, or even several, community’s responsibility because the water is all connected, and the efforts of one community can be easily negated by the less environmentally friendly activities of another. If left unaddressed, the consequence is that waterways like Lake Hopatcong will continue to suffer as will the workers whose incomes are dependent on it and the people who can no longer enjoy it because it isn’t safe.
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 Barnard, Anne. “Algae Bloom Fouls N.J.’s Largest Lake, Indicating Broader Crisis.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 Aug. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/08/05/nyregion/lake-hopatcong-algae.html.
Photo Credit: Justin Henry, Flickr