Swimming Banned at Popular NJ Reservoir Due to Toxic Algal Blooms

by Staff
swimming banned at popular nj reservoir

Spruce Run Recreation Area, located in Hunterdon County, has become the latest casualty in the ongoing battle against harmful algal blooms. State officials have announced a blanket ban on swimming this summer due to detected levels of these potentially hazardous blooms, which pose significant health risks for those in the water (including dogs).

Algae blooms appeared across various lakes across New Jersey this year, including Spruce Run. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has raised alert levels throughout the park, signaling a moderate risk of adverse health effects from the toxins present in the water. This decision comes in response to levels surpassing established public health thresholds, as confirmed by state authorities.

Spruce Run, a popular hub for swimming, fishing, and kayakers in Clinton, faced a similar predicament back in 2021 when algal blooms forced the closure of its waters to swimmers. Boasting 1,290 acres of water and 15 miles of scenic shoreline, Spruce Run ranks as New Jersey’s third-largest reservoir, trailing only Round Valley and Wanaque reservoirs in size.

The Beach at Spruce Run Recreation Area - Not Yet Open for the Season

For those who frequent the popular recreation area, this is not something new, as swimming has been banned in years past.

“The lack of control of runoff into a reservoir really tells us how strong our commitment to environmental protection actually is,” one Reddit user says. “I grew up sailing at SR and RV. I preferred SR because it was a more predictable body of water than RV. Meanwhile, I haven’t sailed at SR since before the pandemic because of the algae issues.

This is all fertilizer and septic runoff.”

Experts attribute algae blooms to the rapid proliferation of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, which naturally inhabit freshwater environments. Under optimal conditions—sunlight and warm weather—these organisms can rapidly multiply, forming toxic blooms that give water a distinct green or blue hue, akin to spilled paint.

Spruce Run, NJ

The repercussions of exposure to cyanobacteria can range from skin rashes and respiratory irritation to more severe symptoms resembling allergies or influenza. Ingestion of contaminated water poses an even greater threat, potentially leading to liver damage or neurological complications.

Recent assessments of Spruce Run’s water quality, conducted at the start of June, initially showed no signs of harmful algae blooms according to state monitoring data. However, the subsequent detection of these blooms underscores the unpredictable nature of their occurrence and the challenges in mitigating their impact.

Spruce Run

Spruce Run is not alone in grappling with this issue. Other New Jersey lakes, including Greenwich Lake in Gloucester County and Wargo Pond in Mercer County, have also reported positive tests for algae. The DEP continues to monitor dozens of freshwater bodies across the state via its comprehensive dashboard, ensuring proactive measures are in place to safeguard public health.

As summer unfolds, visitors to Spruce Run Recreation Area are reminded to heed official advisories and respect the swimming ban in place. While the allure of its expansive waters and picturesque surroundings remains undiminished, ensuring visitor safety remains paramount in the face of this environmental challenge.

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