Potentially hazardous algae appears in Lake Ceva

By Len La Rocca
News Editor

The NJDEP Bureau of Freshwater and Biological Monitoring will observe the water (Jennifer Somers / Photo Editor).

The Mercer County Division of Public Health advised the College on Friday, Sept. 13 that a potentially hazardous algae bloom has naturally occurred in Lake Ceva.

People have been advised to have no contact with the water until it is confirmed safe by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Freshwater and Biological Monitoring.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, harmful algae blooms can contain threatening toxins that can sicken or even kill humans or animals who have made contact with the water.

“There should be no contact with the water including, but not limited to, swimming, wading and water sports,” said Dave Muha, the associate vice president for communications, marketing and brand management, in an email that informed the campus community of the algae. “Fish caught in these water bodies should not be eaten. Pets and livestock should not contact or swallow the water.”

While some algae blooms are not hazardous, Muha stated that they are at levels quantified at or above the New Jersey Health Advisory Guidance levels.

This accumulation of algae can create a thick film covering the surface of the water, causing low levels of  dissolved oxygen in the water, according to the NJDEP Division of Water Monitoring and Standards. The blooms can be especially harmful to the aquatic organisms that inhabit Lake Ceva.

Having any contact with hazardous water can result in exposure to toxic chemicals, which can be harmful to humans and animals if ingested, inhaled or contacted by the skin or mucous membranes, according to the NJDEP website.

These toxins can also accumulate in fish and shellfish which can cause illness when either are consumed. Cyanobacteria is the most common bacteria found in algae blooms in freshwater bodies like Lake Ceva. It develops a blue-green colored algae resembling pea soup or spilled paint, according to the NJDEP algae bloom fact sheet.

Factors such as excessive sunlight and slow-moving water raise the likelihood that an algae bloom will occur, according to the EPA. 

Rosedale Lake in Pennington, New Jersey was also temporarily closed this past July due to cyanobacteria causing a harmful algae bloom, according to hyperlocal news site Patch.com.

According to Muha, Lake Ceva will be monitored by the NJDEP Bureau of Freshwater and Biological Monitoring until they advise the College that the water is safe again.

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