LAKE HOPATCONG, NJ – Two monitoring buoys, located in Byram Bay and Woodport, have recently been vandalized and cut free from their anchors, and as a result, have had to be removed from the lake, according to the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.
They may look like a cross between R2D2 and a minion, but those yellow floaters on the lake are actually continuous monitoring buoys placed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as part of its Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) monitoring efforts.
These monitoring buoys are part of the NJDEP Continuous Data Monitoring Program and are managed by the Division of Water Monitoring, Standards, and Pesticide Control (DWMSPC). The continuous monitoring buoys assist in the prediction and strategic response of HABs. Utilizing a water quality sensor and telemetry technology, the project creates a real-time data feed of select water quality parameters like dissolved oxygen, temperature, chlorophyll, phycocyanin, pH, and turbidity.
The data generated is accessible via the NJDEP DWMSPC Continuous Data Monitoring website and is used to inform HAB status and response actions and does not replace laboratory confirmation analysis for DEP alert postings. Water quality data is also used to assess factors that may contribute to, or characterize HAB production, which will aid in the mitigation and prevention of HABs at Lake Hopatcong.
This year four continuous monitoring buoys were launched on Lake Hopatcong – they are located near Hopatcong State Park, River Styx, Byram Bay, and Woodport. These sites were selected due to recreational and/or drinking water significance, repeated HAB occurrence, duration, and elevated levels of the HABs. The buoys are yellow, with a flashing light, and an orange flag, and are also surrounded by white barrel buoys to make them visible to boaters.
“Not only is this damage a great expense to taxpayers, but untethered and drifting buoys are also a high safety risk to boaters, swimmers, and other recreation. The NJDEP has been working closely with the New Jersey State Police in investigating the acts of tampering and vandalism of the monitoring equipment,” the foundation said.
When out on the lake, take note of these buoys and keep an appropriate distance. If you notice anyone near or tampering with the buoys, you are asked to report it to the New Jersey State Police at 973-663-3400 and to the NJDEP at 1-877-WARNDEP (1-877-927-6337).