Thursday, July 16th was an active day on Lake Hopatcong as we hosted Congressional Representative Mikie Sherrill for a tour of Crescent Cove in the morning and an informal dinner with Governor Phil Murphy at the Windlass Restaurant.
Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill
At the request of Mayor Francis, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill and her District Director Kellie Doucette visited the lake on Thursday morning to view the current aquatic weed growth in Crescent Cove and discuss HAB Grant projects and issues facing the lake. During the Congresswoman’s visit Mayor Francis talked about his initiatives including the Crescent Cove aeration system being installed under the Borough’s harmful algal bloom (HAB) grant award, sewering of Hudson Ave, sterile grass carp as an alternative weed control, and lack of weed harvesting on the lake. Colleen Lyons of the Lake Hopatcong Commission and Marty Kane and Jessica Murphy of the Foundation were also in attendance and discussed the Commission’s funding issues including fiscal year 2021 statutory funds as well as HAB grant funds that were promised back in March. The Congresswoman has already contacted the Governor’s Office on both points, and the Commission received word on Friday morning that HAB grant funds would be distributed sometime next week.
Through her work on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Congresswoman Sherrill has included language in the Water Resources Development Act, which makes inland waters of the State of New Jersey eligible for federal HABs funding. The WRDA is the congressional commitment to our Nation’s water infrastructure and authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works activities and directs the agencies practices. Specifically, the language included by the subcommittee directs the Corps to carry out a demonstration program for detecting, treating, preventing, and eliminating harmful algal blooms. Additionally, the section directs the Corps to consult with Federal and state agencies and to maximize the use of existing data and programs.
From the text: “(c) FOCUS AREAS.—In carrying out the demonstration program under subsection (a), the Secretary shall undertake program activities related to harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes, the tidal and inland waters of the State of New Jersey, and Lake Okeechobee, Florida.”
While not everything in the WRDA gets funded right away (as it directs all of the Army Corps projects), Congresswoman Sherrill’s team will keep an eye on how this demonstration project proceeds. Kellie Doucette indicated that “this is a good sign that we are making headway in having the HAB issues in New Jersey recognized federally as a priority”.
We thank Congresswoman Sherrill for her advocacy in elevating the importance of Lake Hopatcong and all New Jersey lakes on a national level.
Governor Phil Murphy
During his visit to Lake Hopatcong in November 2019, Governor Murphy made a promise to return to Lake Hopatcong over Memorial Day. Although he was a few months delayed due to COVID response efforts, he returned to the lake on Thursday for an informal dinner with our municipal mayors and representatives of the Commission and Foundation at the Windlass Restaurant. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues facing the lake including weed harvesting, HAB grant and statutory funding for the Commission and how the COVID response has impacted lake activities, businesses and the municipalities. The Governor spent an hour with the group discussing current issues impacting the region and has offered to facilitate a meeting between DEP representatives and local officials to further lake discussions and strengthen partnerships between the groups.
At the conclusion of the meal Governor Murphy received applause as he exited the restaurant. He says he’ll be back with his family for some down time on the lake soon. A big thanks to Governor Murphy and his team for making the trip to Lake Hopatcong and for instituting the 2019 HAB initiatives program which has allowed for the installation of all our HAB Grant projects on the lake this season.