A toxic algae bloom in Deal Lake, the largest lake in Monmouth County, has county public health officials issuing an advisory warning residents and their pets not to eat fish caught in the lake or enter the water.
Water sampling last week tested unsafe bacteria levels in the water, resulting in a blue-green scum on sections of the lake. Microbes can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals.
Deal Lake Commission Chairman Don Brockel said there are various causes for the algae bloom and that similar algae-bloom problems are fairly common at New Jersey coastal lakes
“It’s a shallow lake and gets a lot of sun. Phosphates and nitrogen coming into lake are issues,” he said.
Brockel said he expects revised water-quality testing results later this week to review the situation. He questioned what areas of the lake were tested and if the testing went too far in banning recreational use of the water.
“Maybe the tests were only in one selected area. We need to know where they came from. The continued testing still has to figure out the right safety levels and what the state is looking for is the right numbers.
“Personally, I think they overreacted. A warning is good but don’t understand the other restrictions against recreational use of the lake,” he said.
Last summer the state also had to restrict uses at Deal Lake and nearby Fletcher Lake, near Bradley Beach, because of an algae-type bloom.
“This happens in a lot of lakes. It’s a nationwide problem and not just with Deal Lake,” he said.
Brockel said Monmouth University and county health officials have been testing the 158-acre lake more frequently, with state health officials looking on
He said the testing is a “litmus test of the problem” and that “we have to find the source.”
He said that water with animal and human waste, along with other contaminants, makes its way into the lake and that efforts need to be taken to fix the problem.
“We all care about the lake and need to come up with some standards regarding risk levels,” he said.
He said that if the county and state want to concentrate on bacteria levels in Deal Lake, that is a good thing.
“If they want to pick on us, that’s fine- just give us the money to fix it,” he said.
Brockel urged local municipalities, the county and the state to clean the storm drains they control around the lake to help control the problem.