November 19, 2019
New Jersey will have additional resources to combat toxic algae blooms, like those that blanketed dozens of the state's bodies of water last summer, Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey Department of Environmental Health announced.
The state is committing $13 million from state and federal funding sources to address the prevalence of algae blooms through science-based prevention, mitigation, study, and response, Gov. Murphy's office said in a statement. The funding will support local communities and their efforts to combat the toxic algae.
“The presence of harmful algal blooms in New Jersey’s waterbodies severely impacts our public health and economy,” Gov. Murphy said in Monday's press statement. “The rise of harmful algal blooms is a global challenge and our initiative to reduce future blooms will allow us to protect the health of our residents, as well as the economies of our lake communities.
New Jersey experienced the worst algal blooms in two years last summer. There were 39 confirmed cases and 70 suspected cases among the state's bodies of water. Lake Hopatcong, a popular swimming spot in Sussex and Morris counties, was out of commission for the majority of the summer due to toxic blooms.
Harmful toxic algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can discolor the water and produce floating mats of scum on the surface. While cyanobacteria is fairly common in fresh water, it becomes dangerous when the algae experiences rapid growth, called a "bloom."
According to the NJDEP, harmful levels of cyanobacteria can produce toxins called cyanotoxins that are dangerous for humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife. Exposure to these cyanotoxins can lead to rashes, allergy-like reactions, headache, fever, joint pain, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation, skin rashes, and eye irritation, according to the EPA.