Lake Conditions Update

The mild winter resulted in very little ice-over and snow cover on our lakes. As a result, much more sun light has been available for underwater plants and algae to get an early start on spring growth.  We have already observed higher than normal early growth of curly leaf pondweed and filamentous algae in Highland Lakes and our lake consultants have confirmed similar conditions in many other NJ/NY/PA lakes.  We hope the impact of the mild winter will be mitigated to some degree as a result of more frequent inspections, expanded water quality testing and alternative treatment options which have been approved by the Voting Board.

In addition to our standard testing of temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, clarity (secchi depth) and conductance, beginning this season our agreement with Princeton Hydro now includes more comprehensive testing including two forms of nitrogen, multiple forms of phosphorus, total suspended solids, and planktonic surveys. This enhanced testing is now being performed consistently across all lakes and the lagoon. In addition, Princeton Hydro will be performing several nutrient reduction treatments in Lake 4. Because Lake 4 has experienced recurring HABs in recent years, Princeton Hydro will be applying three treatments of EutroSORB, a new product which has been shown to be environmentally safe and more effective in removing phosphorus from the water column. Sometime in June, they will also be installing filtration buoys containing biochar, another chemically inert and effective means of removing phosphorus. And finally, thanks to the efforts of the Ecology Committee and Trustee Bob Reffelt, a firm was hired to perform weed harvesting in Lake 4.  Weed harvesting removes biomass (vegetation) rather than allowing it to die in place and contribute unwanted nutrients to the water column.  Approximately 50 cubic yards of biomass was removed and is being converted to organic mulch at a local tree farm.

Also new this season is an agreement with Lake Management Sciences (LMS) of Branchville, NJ. LMS is a highly respected, award-winning firm which has been serving public and private lake communities in NJ, NY, and PA for many years.  LMS is well-qualified, staffed and equipped to perform all of the services previously provided by Solitude Lake Management. They are experienced with the best products and research currently available for lake treatment and will be working closely with the Club and Princeton Hydro to maintain a coordinated and effective approach to managing our lakes.

While we have no control over mild winters, excessive summer heat and sun or varying amounts of rainfall, all of which affect the health of our lakes, we have made some significant changes in those things which we can control – monitoring, testing, treatment, and prevention.  And we will continue to explore every option available to protect and preserve the health and beauty of Highland Lakes.

For more information on how recent weather is impacting area lakes, click here for and article by noted aquatic and environmental expert, Dr. Fred Lubnow.