Highland Lakes

Country Club and Community Association

Update August 6, 2020: Lake 4/Beach 5 (Upper East Highland Lake) Remains Closed – Harmful Algae Bloom Advisory

Solitude Lake Management treated Lake 4 with approximately 1,000 gallons of aluminum sulfate (alum) this morning. Monitoring results of pH were satisfactory. Results from previous samples by Princeton Hydro for cyanobacteria are in progress, and three additional samples were taken today. Sample results will be reported when available. The HAB Advsiory remains in effect.

It is the objective of both today’s alum treatment and the two previous chelated copper treatments to break the cycle of cyanobacteria blooms. We are hopeful that the alum treatment results supports this approach. We shall see.

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager

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Update August 2, 2020: Lake 4 was treated by Solitude Lake Management on Thursday, July 29, and an alum treatment was scheduled for Monday, August 3. Based on the tropical storm affecting Florida, and projected to arrive in our area Monday night with estimated rainfall of two to five inches through Tuesday evening, the treatment has been postponed to Thursday, August 6, allowing time for water flow to settle, while capturing existing lake nutrients, as well as nutrient input from storm.

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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Update July 27, 2020:
Summary:
another chelated copper sulfate treatment will take place this week. Additional sampling will occur on Thursday, July 29. An alum treatment will take place during the week of August 3.

Princeton Hydro’s guidance received on July 27 follows: “Based on the data we have at hand, after the copper treatment, much of the phosphorus will be organic and then will eventually become inorganic due to bacterial decomposition and algal uptake. We see that in the July data we have; two days after the treatment most of the dissolved P is organic (about 60%) and then 5 days after the treatment most of the dissolved P is inorganic (about 62%). Thus, if the copper treatment is conducted on the 30th of July, we would recommend conducting the alum treatment around the 4th of August – to give the system a little time to convert most of the P into an organic form (which is bound by alum).”
Note: the scheduling of the copper sulfate treatment is tentative, and may take place on July 29 weather permitting. Should that be the case, the alum treatment will be conducted on August 3.

Critical to the application of alum is the monitoring of pH to avoid toxicity to fish. It is anticipated that the copper treatment followed by the alum treatment will improve conditions in the lake considerably, though it must be kept in mind that there are no guarantees. 

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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Update (minor) July 23, 2020: Cyanotoxins in the sample taken on July 18 were negative. Throughout this bloom no cyanotoxins have been identified in the eight samples which have been taken.

Update July 21, 2020: Sampling results by Princeton Hydro, LLC from Saturday, July 18, received on Tuesday, July 21, are quite disappointing with a cyanobacteria cell count of 129,054 cells/mL. This count in excess of 80,000 cells/mL means our lake and beach must remain in ADVISORY status.

On July 15 there were two consecutive cyanobacteria results below the ADVISORY threshold, though the decision was made to maintain the ADVISORY until a third sample was received. That third sample from July 18 demonstrated that the precautions taken then, when the ADVISORY could have been lifted, were appropriate with this subsequent disappointing result.

Next Steps: In the short term, an algae treatment was conducted on July 14 – fourteen days must elapse between algaecide treatments. The next treatment may not take place until July 28, and the longer-acting chelated copper sulfate will be used again. In the interim, the cyanobacteria bloom may dissipate on its own, though weather is not in our favor with the heat and corresponding elevated water temperatures. Continued sampling by Princeton Hydro will be taking place.

Understanding the source of the phosphorous feeding this algae is key, and plans are under development for the application of Alum (aluminum sulfate) in early August which precipitates phosphorous from the water column, effectively “starving” the algae from its nutrient source. Information about Alum from the North American Lake Management Society (the Club is a member) is quite interesting and my be found here.

For the longer term, the application of Alum or Phoslock late next spring seems definitely in order, along with other measures to manage phosphorous in the lake.

Your continued patience and understanding are appreciated.

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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Update (minor) July 17, 2020: Cyanotoxin analysis from samples taken on July 15 were negative. Throughout this bloom no cyanotoxins have been identified.

Update July 16, 2020: A promising cyanobacteria count of approximately 22,991 cells/mL was received July 16 from Princeton Hydro, LLC based on a sample taken on July 15. Cyanotoxin results have yet to be received. It should be noted that all cyanotoxin results to date have been negative.

This sample was taken one day after a copper sulfate algaecide treatment by Solitude Lake Management. The product used, chelated copper sulfate, stays in contact with the cyanobacteria in the water column for a longer period before settling out. The reduced cyanobacteria count was the expected result, though whether cyanobacteria counts continue to decline, or at least have been stabilized, will not be known until results are received from the next sampling event early next week.

With the previous count of 66,466 cells/mL from July 13, a second consecutive sample has now fallen below the ADVISORY threshold of 80,000 cells/mL. Based on NJDEP guidance, these results indicate that the hazardous algae bloom ADVISORY could be lifted and that conditions could be lowered to WATCH, meaning that caution should be used during swimming.

Next Steps: A cautious approach requires the continuation of the ADVISORY until results from the next sample are received. Therefore, the ADVISORY condition remains active for now. We trust these two, positive recent results, though three consecutive samples below 80,000 cells/mL are better than two, and that is what we will wait for.

Planning ahead, samples of the lake’s sediments have been authorized for analysis to determine whether the elevated phosphorous levels previously measured are from the lake’s sediments (internal loading) or from adjacent properties and roadways (external loading). What we learn from that analysis will help shape future plans to invest the necessary resources to avoid as best as possible a recurrence of hazardous algae blooms in Lake 4.

As always, your patience and understanding are appreciated.

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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Update July 14, 2020: Sample results by Princeton Hydro, LLC from Monday, July 13 yielded a cyanobacteria count of approximately 66,466 cells/mL, below the ADVISORY threshold of 80,000 cells/mL. According to Princeton Hydro’s staff member, “…a concentration was observed across the lake.” Our concern is that this concentration could blow into the swimming area at any time resulting in elevated counts again at the beach. The concentration also represents a continuing concern and the ADVISORY for the entire lake remains in effect. Cyanotoxin analysis continues to be negative.

Solitude Lake Management returned this afternoon, and applied a copper-based algaecide that remains resident in the water column longer than copper sulfate.

Next Steps: We will continue to monitor lake conditions and sampling results. Continuing sampling by Princeton Hydro remains authorized as frequently as possible. Information will be published as it becomes available.

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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Update July 13, 2020: Unfortunately, the results of the samples taken Friday, July 10 by Princeton Hydro were quite disappointing, with cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) counts totaling approximately 152,952 cells/mL, well above the ADVISORY threshold of 80,000 cells/mL and more than double what was observed in the July 8 sample. The concentration of these cells in the beach area (where the samples are taken) may be chalked up in part to the wind action concentrating everything towards the beach. These results require that the ADVISORY remain in effect. An additional sample was taken on Monday, July 13.

These results mean that the requirements to lift the ADVISORY of two consecutive cell counts below 80,000 have not been met. Sampling must continue.

Next Steps: in the short-term, sampling and treatments will continue until this cyanobacteria bloom is under control. On Tuesday, July 14 Solitude Lake Management returns, and it has been authorized to treat the bloom with a different algaecide that stays in the water column longer than copper sulfate and is expected to be more effective. Over the longer term, an examination of the amount of phosphorous bound up in the lake’s sediments may be authorized, and/or a treatment in late spring with a product that binds up phosphorous may be conducted. What all may be assured of is that no one involved with the Club, no one who lives on the lake, and no one who uses Beach 5 wants to see a repeat of what we have struggled with this difficult summer.

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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Update July 10, 2020: Analysis of July 8 samples at the beach by Princeton Hydro, LLC, received July 10, continue to indicate that cyanotoxins (microcystin and cylindrospermopsin) remain not detected while cell counts were just under 60,000, the first time cell counts fell BELOW the ADVISORY threshold of 80,000 cells/mL. Based on the July 8 sample the lake is trending in the right direction, and more will be known after results from an additional sample taken on Friday, July 10  are received. If that sample returns a result less than 80,000 cells, the requirements to lift the ADVISORY will have been met (two consecutive cell counts below 80,000 / two consecutive cyanotoxin results below requirements), the condition will be reduced to ALERT, and the beach will open. The Sussex County Division of Health has been updated on the status of our efforts.

Next Steps: based on NJ DEP permitting guidelines and USEPA registration requirements, copper sulfate treatments for algae may take place not less than fourteen days apart. Therefore, the next window for treatment will be next week, July 15 or later. Details are being finalized for a first-time use in Highland Lakes of a product to bind up the phosphorous with expected/hoped-for season-lasting benefits. Details will be provided when available.

In the meantime, please take a few moments to review this important information from the Lake George Association on how you can do your part to help protect the lakes:
https://www.lakegeorgeassociation.org/protect/lake-friendly-living/fertilizers-lawn-care-water-quality/

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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Update July 7, 2020: Princeton Hydro obtained samples from the beach area on Sunday, July 5. The results continue to be disappointing, with cell counts nearly 103,000. The composition of the cyanobacteria (aka blue-green algae) has also changed from Anabaena to Aphanizomenon as the dominant cyanobacteria genus. Fortunately, the tests for the cyanotoxins microcystin and cylindrospermopsin came back negative, and have not been detected during any of the sampling. Princeton Hydro’s cyanobacteria results were confirmed with supplemental sampling by Solitude Lake Management on Monday, July 6.

NJDEP’s requirement for two consecutive results below the cyanotoxin threshholds has been met in all samples. However, the threshold requirement of less than 80,000 cells has not been met in any sample, and therefore the ADVISORY must remain in effect.

Next Steps: Depending on weather, Solitude Lake Management is due on the lake on Wednesday or Thursday for another algae treatment. Additional sampling by Princeton Hydro in the beach area has been authorized. Analysis of total phosphorous, dissolved phosphorous, and soluble reactive phosphorus is underway on an accelerated basis. Understanding these parameters may provide guidance for a specialized treatment to bind up the phosphorous for much of this season, effectively denying the troublesome algae of its most important nutrients. Additional information will be posted when available. Please know that the entire lake management team is working daily on resolving this problem.

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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Update July 3, 2020:
Laboratory results received Thursday evening, July 2 from Princeton Hydro confirmed that the count of cyanotoxins were negative, the second consecutive sample with negative results. However, and disappointingly, the cell count for blue-green algae was over 200,000 cells per milliliter, better than the initial result of over 322,000 but far in excess of NJDEP harmful algae bloom ADVISORY levels of less than 80,000.

As discussed in the July 2 update, NJDEP’s guidance requires two consecutive samples before the Advisory may be lifted. The guidance applies both to cyanotoxins (that criteria has been met) AND blue-green algae counts (neither sample has met that criteria). The ADVISORY must remain in effect.

Another sample will be taken on Sunday. In order to meet the requirement of two consecutive samples meeting all criteria, Princeton Hydro has been requested to perform daily sampling beginning Monday, July 6 until the criteria has been met.

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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Update: July 2, 2020:
Results of the laboratory analysis conducted by Princeton Hydro, LLC from samples obtained on June 29 yielded NO DETECTED cyanotoxins (microcystin and cylindrospermopsin). An additional sample was taken on Wednesday, July 1 and results are expected late tonight.

According to NJDEP’s guidance, once a Harmful Algae Bloom is determined, two consecutive samples are required before the Advisory may be lifted. Our expectations are that the cell counts from the July 1 sample will be below 80,000 cells per milliliter and cyanotoxins will not be detected. Regrettably, with the holiday weekend all labs are closed The next sample will be obtained Sunday, July 5, with results known late Monday, July 6. We have similar expectations for this second sample.

The algae bloom was managed on Tuesday, June 30 by Solitude Lake Management which conducted a copper sulfate treatment. This treatment is the basis of our expectations that two consecutive test results will permit the lifting of the Advisory and full use of the lake on Tuesday, July 7. Unfortunately, that timetable does not help over this holiday weekend.

More information may be found on NJDEP’s website:
https://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2020/20_0023.htm

Harmful Algae Blooms – NJDEP Threshhold Chart June 2020

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager
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INITIAL ADVISORY June 30, 2020:
Potential Harmful Algae Bloom Suspected – Lake 4/Upper East Highland Lake – Avoid All Contact with the Water

Harmful Algae Bloom Suspected - Lake 4 (Upper East Highland Lake)

 

Beach 5 has been closed to swimming until further notice. Owners on Upper East Highland Lake are strongly cautioned to avoid contact with the water until this Advisory is lifted.

This poster is the ADVISORY NOTICE recommended by NJDEP. Fishing and boating (not kayaking/canoeing/sailing) are the activities that can be safely conducted provided no contact is made with the water. DO NOT EAT the fish.

The Club received notice on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, that a sample taken near the beach area (Beach 5) on Monday, June 29 by Princeton Hydro, LLC yielded a cell count in excess of 80,000 cells per milliliter. This bloom of the cyanabacteria (blue-green “algae”) anabaena may produce the cyanotoxin microcystin. Princeton Hydro is conducting further analysis and results are expected by Wednesday, July 1.

According to the US Department of Environmental Protection, “Microcystins are toxins produced by cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are also known as blue-green algae and are ubiquitous in surface water when conditions are favorable for growth and formation of algal blooms”. Blue-green algae generally cause algae blooms resulting in decreasing water clarity and surface scums, and these conditions are generally addressed through the application of copper sulfate. Please keep in mind that not all algae blooms cause a Harmful Algae Bloom.

For more information about potentially harmful algae blooms please review this page on the Club’s website: //hlcc.org/about-hlcc/the-lakes-and-lagoon-of-highland-lakes/about-algae-blooms-cyanobacteria-and-news-reports-of-closures-at-lake-hopatcong-and-greenwood-lake/

Updates will be provided as quickly as possible. Your patience is appreciated.

Jack McLaughlin
General Manager

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