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The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) hosted its 3rd Annual Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Summit! The all-day, virtual seminar included expert presentations and facilitated open-forum discussions related to HAB science, monitoring, response, management, treatment and communication.

Approximately 220 people from around the country participated in the virtual summit, which was free and open to the public. The audience of stakeholders included government officials (local, state, federal); lake and other environmental commissions; watershed associations; environmental nonprofits; businesses; academics; lake management and HAB treatment experts; and folks interested in protecting their community lakes.

Participants heard presentations about “Keeping Your Pets Safe from HABs,” “The Benefit of Riparian Buffers;” and “Stormwater Management and the Use of Green Infrastructure.” Additionally, two members of the NJDEP HAB Expert Team - Dr. Fred Lubnow Director and Dr. Meiyin Wu - gave a presentation on best management practices to prevent, mitigate, and/or control HABs. The 10-person expert team was established as part of Governor Phil Murphy’s plan to enhance scientific expertise around water quality management and bolster the State’s response to HABs.

The Governor’s HABs Initiative was launched in 2019 after lakes throughout NJ (and the entire Continental U.S.) suffered from HAB outbreaks, which caused local and county health agencies to close off all beaches and issue advisories. These unprecedented conditions had significant negative impacts on lake-related ecological, recreational, and economic resources. The Governor’s initiative designated $13 million in funding to local communities for HABs reduction/prevention; established the aforementioned HABs expert team; and coordinated annual HABs summits in order to encourage continued community education and discussion.

If you were unable to attend the 2022 HAB Summit, NJDEP has made the complete morning and afternoon sessions available online:

Watch the Morning Session: 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KzeIP4FY60[/embed]

Watch the Afternoon Session: 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSfJXhcaPCo[/embed]  

The NJDEP Division of Water Monitoring and Standards has an entire website dedicated to HABs. Click here to access educational fact sheets, stay informed on HAB alerts and advisories, and report a HAB sighting.

For more information about HABs, watch a live interview with Dr. Fred Lubnow on Jersey Matters during which he discusses what steps should be taken to prevent HABs, and check out our recent blog:

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This article was originally published in the Musconetcong Watershed Association's "Instream Update" eNewsletter.

The Musconetcong River begins at New Jersey’s largest lake, Lake Hopatcong, and flows southwest for 42 miles before emptying into the Delaware River. At the headwaters in Lake Hopatcong, the community has been battling with harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs can cause significant water quality issues in lakes and ponds, often forming a visible and sometimes odorous scum on the surface of the water. Blooms are primarily caused by warmer temperatures and increased amounts of nutrients (i.e., nitrogen and phosphorus) from stormwater runoff.

In 2019, the local community suffered immensely from HABs, which was the most prolific bloom the lake has experienced over the last two decades, resulting in public health advisories to be issued for recreation on the lake. Because Lake Hopatcong is a popular summer vacation destination, this outbreak unfortunately stunted the local economy, restricted recreational usage of the lake, and impacted fish and wildlife.

The Lake Hopatcong Commission and Lake Hopatcong Foundation, in partnership with municipalities, counties, the state, local groups like the Musconetcong Watershed Association, and Princeton Hydro, have been working to improve water quality for years by prioritizing stormwater mitigation and septic management policies within the watershed.  So why was the summer of 2019 so intense?

Analysis of 30 Years Water Quality Data 

Princeton Hydro scientists have been collecting water quality data in Lake Hopatcong for 30 years. This includes dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature, as well as concentrations of total suspended solids, total phosphorus, nitrate‐N, ammonia‐N and chlorophyll a, and various biological factors. There are not many lakes in New Jersey that have such a robust and consistent public dataset, which presents a rare opportunity to study long-term trends. We dove a little deeper into this information to see what many have caused the 2019 blooms. 

We analyzed a statistically significant dataset of surface water temperatures and found that average July surface temperatures in Lake Hopatcong have been steadily increasing over time.  We also have 20+ years of observational data that documents an increase in frequency, duration, and magnitude of HABs over the same time period. In fact, HABs have recently persisted all the way into the winter months, enabling “green ice” to form on the lake surface, as observed in December 2020.

In summer of 2019, the Lake Hopatcong region was hit with a dramatic amount of rainfall. These weather patterns resulted in some of the highest early summer total phosphorus (TP) concentrations in Lake Hopatcong in over 20 years. The mean June TP concentration was 0.043 mg/L; the last time it exceeded 0.04  mg/L was in 1999. In order to have acceptable water quality conditions in the lake, the mean TP concentrations should be at 0.03 mg/L or lower.

It has been well documented that phosphorus is the primary limiting nutrient in Lake Hopatcong. Meaning, a slight increase in phosphorus can result in a substantial increase in algal and/or aquatic plant biomass. The water quality analysis identified the cause for the HABs (the high frequency of storms in June 2019 transporting nutrients, in particular phosphorus, to the lake) and identified why they persisted over the growing season (internal phosphorus loading).

Climate Change as a Driver for HABs

Climate change is leading to more frequent, more intense rainstorms that transport run-off pollutants into waterways, coupled with hotter days to warm the water. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, “AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis,” confirmed that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land, and that this human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.  It predicts, “increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, and heavy precipitation, agricultural and  ecological droughts in some regions, and proportion of intense tropical cyclones, as well as reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.” In the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., most climate models indicate that the landscape will become warmer and wetter.

Looking at our observations and 30-year dataset for Lake Hopatcong, our preliminary analysis shows that climate change — increased precipitation (which flushed the phosphorus into the lake) followed by intense heat to warm surface water temperatures — was a significant variable that led to the devastating HABs at Lake Hopatcong in 2019. 

Other communities have experienced similar trends too. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, HABs have now been observed in all 50 states, ranging from large freshwater lakes, to smaller inland lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Our neighbors in Upstate New York suffered from 1,000+ HAB occurrences during the 2019 season, including a HAB that covered 600+ square miles of Lake Erie causing beach closures and fish kills.

A study recently published in Nature journal reviewed three decades of high-resolution satellite data for 71 large lakes globally and determined that “peak summertime bloom intensity has increased in most (68%) of the lakes studied, revealing a global exacerbation of bloom conditions.” The study called for water quality management efforts to better account for the interactions between climate change and local hydrological conditions.

We are witnessing these impacts firsthand at Lake Hopatcong and within the Musconetcong River Watershed.  And, according to the IPCC report, these climate change-induced instances (i.e. intense rainfall followed by intense heat) may become even more frequent. To further understand the connection between climate change and HABs at Lake Hopatcong, Princeton Hydro is conducting a more rigorous study that includes more distinct data. We hope this will provide some insight on how to manage expected climate impacts in lakes and watersheds.

Taking Action in the Musconetcong River Watershed

While the IPCC report conclusions may be depressing, there is still much we can do at both a global and local level to limit future climate change. The key here is limiting cumulative CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane) emissions and quickly reaching (at least) net zero CO2 emissions. And, to specifically reduce occurrences of HABs While the IPCC report conclusions may be depressing, there is still much we can do at both a global and local level to limit future climate change. The key here is globally limiting cumulative CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane) emissions and quickly reaching (at least) net zero CO2 emissions. And, to specifically reduce occurrences of HABs fueled by climate change in Lake Hopatcong, eliminating sources of phosphorus from entering the lake is critical. So what can we do in the Musconetcong River Watershed?

In 2019, NJ Department of Environmental Protection committed $13.5 million via their Water Quality Restoration Grant programs for local projects that aim to improve water quality in New Jersey’s lakes and ponds. The Lake Hopatcong Commission landed a $500k grant via the program to evaluate and implement a variety of innovative, nearshore projects at Lake Hopatcong. Projects included performing an alternative non-copper-based algaecide treatment and one of the largest nutrient PhosLock treatments in the Northeast on the lake as well as the installation of Biochar bags, near-shore aeration systems, and floating wetland islands. 

This could not be possible without the help of all project partners including Lake Hopatcong Foundation, Morris County, Sussex County, Jefferson Township, Borough of Hopatcong, Borough of Mt. Arlington, and Roxbury Township, who collectively contributed over $330k in match support.  The Lake Hopatcong Commission also landed a subsequent $206,000 grant via NJDEP’s 319 program a few months later, with $44,000 in match support from the four municipalities and Lake Hopatcong Foundation and Commission, for the design and implementation of four in-lake/watershed projects to protect Lake Hopatcong's water quality.

The results of these projects were significant. Over the last two years, the mean June TP concentrations were lower than 2019 (0.033 mg/L in 2020 and 0.020 mg/L in 2021). These in-lake and watershed efforts have had a positive impact on reducing available phosphorus.

Just this month, Lake Hopatcong Commission landed another $480k from a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grant, which was backed with $489k more in match support from Lake Hopatcong Commission, Lake Hopatcong Foundation, Musconetcong Watershed Association, NJDEP, Borough of Hopatcong, Township of Roxbury, Mount Arlington Borough, Morris and Sussex Counties, Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum, Rutgers University, NJ Highlands Council, and Princeton Hydro.  The project team will design and implement three streambank stabilization projects in the watershed, which were identified as priority projects in the 2021 Upper Musconetcong River Watershed Implementation Plan. 

“Managing loads of phosphorous in watersheds is even more important as the East Coast becomes increasingly warmer and wetter thanks to climate change. Climate change will likely need to be dealt with on a national and international scale. But local communities, groups, and individuals can have a real impact in reducing phosphorous levels in local waters.”

Dr. Fred Lubnow, Director of Aquatics for Princeton Hydro

Changes in hydrology, water chemistry, biology, or physical properties of a lake can have cascading consequences that may rapidly alter the overall properties of a lake and surrounding ecosystem, which can lead to negative consequences like HABs. Recognizing and monitoring the changes that are taking place locally brings the problems of climate change closer to home, which can help raise awareness and inspire environmentally-minded action.


The Musconetcong Watershed Association is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of the Musconetcong River and its watershed, including its natural and cultural resources. Since 2003, Princeton Hydro has been working with MWA in the areas of river restoration, dam removal, and engineering consulting. Click here to read our Client Spotlight blog featuring MWA’s Executive Director Cindy Joerger and Communications Coordinator Karen Doerfer.

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Just 50 miles southeast of New York City, tucked between two municipalities, sits a 650+ acre tidal salt marsh which spans the shorelines of the South River in densely populated, highly developed Central New Jersey. The South River is the first major tributary of the Raritan River, located 8.3 miles upstream of the Raritan River’s mouth, which drains into Raritan Bay.

The Lower Raritan River and Raritan Bay make up a large part of the core of the NY-NJ Harbor and Estuary Program. Within the Raritan Estuary, the South River wetland ecosystem is one of the largest remaining wetland complexes. While the South River salt marsh ecosystem has been spared from direct development, it has been degraded in quality, and does not provide optimal habitat for wildlife or maximum flood protection for residents. This area is subject to fairly regular tidal flooding (particularly when it occurs simultaneously with a storm) and periodic—generally more severe—flooding during more significant events such as nor’easters and tropical storms. Hurricanes Irene and Sandy caused damage in the Boroughs of Sayreville and South River too.

In 2018, Princeton Hydro and Rutgers University, along with the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, Middlesex County, Borough of Sayreville, Borough of South River, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Raritan Riverkeeper, and the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative, secured funding from NFWF’s National Coastal Resilience Fund for the “South River Ecosystem Restoration & Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project.”

The South River Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project aims to:

  • Reduce socioeconomic damages to the Boroughs of South River and Sayreville caused by storm damage, flooding, and sea level rise;

  • Transform degraded wetlands to high-quality marsh that can reduce flooding and enhance fish & wildlife habitat; and

  • Engage stakeholders in activities about coastal resilience and ecological health to maximize public outreach in the Raritan River Watershed.

For this 165-acre tidal marsh and transitional forest “eco-park,” the project team is conducting an ecosystem restoration site assessment and design. This phase of the coastal restoration project will result in a permit-ready engineering design plan that stabilizes approximately 2.5 miles of shoreline, reduces flood risk for smaller coastal storms, and enhances breeding and foraging habitat for 10 state-listed threatened and endangered avian species.

[gallery link="none" ids="9640,9642,9639"]

Project Area History

This area has experienced repeated flooding, especially during large storms. For example, coastal areas of Sayreville and South River flooded after Hurricane Floyd (1999), Tropical Storm Ernesto (2006), Hurricane Irene (2011), and Hurricane Sandy (2012). Over the last century, there have been several studies and assessments completed for the South River, many of which identify this project area as a priority location for flooding improvements. The following are key reports and studies published about the project area and surrounding communities:

  • NJ Legislature’s 71st Congress published a report, “Basinwide Water Resource Development Report on the Raritan River Basin” which focused on navigation and flood control for the entire Raritan River Basin. It discussed recommendations for flood control and local storm drainage, setting the stage for future actions.

1970s
  • NJDEP Division of Water Resources published Flood Hazard Reports for the Matchaponix Brook System and Raritan River Basin, which delineated the floodplains in the South River, and its tributaries, the Manalapan Brook and Matchaponix Brook.

1980s
  • USACE New York District released a “Survey Report for Flood Control, Raritan River Basin,” which served as a comprehensive study of the Raritan River Basin and recommended several additional studies. Although the South River was studied, none of the proposed improvements were determined to be economically feasible at that time.

  • Project area was listed as one of the Nation’s Estuaries of National Significance.

1990s
  • USACE conducted a multi-purpose study of this area. This preliminary investigation identified Federal interest in Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction and ecosystem restoration along the South River and concluded that a 100-year level of structural protection would be technically and economically feasible.

2000s
  • USACE NYD and NJDEP released a joint draft, “Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement” for the South River, Raritan River Basin, which focused on “Hurricane & Storm Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration.” Because it was previously determined that there were no widespread flooding problems upstream, the study area was modified to focus on the flood-prone areas within the Boroughs of Sayreville and South River, as well as Old Bridge Township.

Towards a More Resilient South River Ecosystem

Through collaboration with our project partners and following input provided from a virtual stakeholder meeting held in December 2020, Princeton Hydro developed a conceptual design for an eco-park that incorporates habitat enhancement and restoration, and protective measures to reduce impacts from flooding while maximizing public access and utility. Public access includes trails for walking and designated areas for fishing. The eco-park can also be used for additional recreation activities such as bird watching and kayaking.

Highlights of the conceptual design include the following features:

  • Approximately two miles of trails with overlook areas, connection to fishing access, and a kayak launch.

  • ~3,000 linear feet of living shoreline, located along portions of the Washington Canal and the South River, to provide protection from erosion, reduce the wake and wave action, and provide habitat for aquatic and terrestrial organisms.

  • ~60 acres of enhanced upland forest to provide contiguous habitat areas for resident and migratory fauna.

  • A tidal channel that will connect to the existing mud flat on the southeastern part of the site and provide tidal flushing to proposed low and high marsh habitats along its banks.

  • A vegetated berm with a trail atop will extend the length of the site to help mitigate flood risk.

  • Two nesting platforms for Osprey, a species listed as “Threatened” in NJ

  • Designated nesting habitat for the Diamondback Terrapin, a species listed as “Special Concern” in NJ

Princeton Hydro specializes in the planning, design, permitting, implementing, and maintenance of ecological rehabilitation and floodplain management projects. Click here to read about a coastal rehabilitation and resiliency project we completed in New Jersey.

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Princeton Hydro Natural Resource Management Project Manager Johnny Quispe worked with a group of experts to author a peer-reviewed study, titled “A Socio-ecological Imperative for Broadening Participation in Coastal and Estuarine Research and Management.” This compelling and important study was recently published as an open-source article in Estuaries and Coasts, the journal of the Coastal Estuarine Research Federation.

In the article, the authors put the spotlight on the lack of diversity in scientific disciplines, and describe the urgency of building a diverse and inclusive workforce in coastal and estuarine science specifically. The study provides overview of this inequity and identifies how a scientific society can and must catalyze representational, structural, and interactional diversity to achieve greater inclusion. The study states:

Needed changes go beyond representational diversity and require an intentional commitment to build capacity through inclusivity and community engagement by supporting anti-racist policies and actions… Our vision couples the importance of workforce representation for the communities we serve with an effort to use inclusion and diversity initiatives as a mechanism for social justice and to address institutionalized racism, which is deeply rooted in the geosciences… Professional societies, as institutional actors, can play a key role in dismantling racism and broadening participation in science… We contend that scientific societies can be natural agents of positive change in this regard and that they have an obligation to do so… Such work is not only long overdue and essential to estuarine and coastal science and management, but it is also a moral imperative.

[caption id="attachment_8890" align="aligncenter" width="2000"]A Socio-ecological Imperative for Broadening Participation in Coastal and Estuarine Research and Management The above shows U.S. county averages of racial and ethnic composition in  coastal vs. non-coastal areas (Chart A) and shoreline vs. non-shoreline areas (Chart B). Data source: US Census Bureau (2019) and NOAA (2021). [/caption]

Also illustrated in the study is the disparity between the racial and ethnic composition of coastal and shoreline areas and the racial and ethnic characteristics of ocean science graduates. Nearly across the board, average populations of Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans are higher (sometimes substantially) in U.S. coastal and shoreline areas than non-coastal and non-shoreline areas. Yet, STEM degree programs and occupations in the U.S. and globally continue to significantly lack demographic diversity. Furthermore, as the study states:

“Without a marked increase in the racial and ethnic diversity of students obtaining geoscience degrees, all science fields including coastal sciences risk losing the capacity to do the best science and to design the best policy. By championing equitable representation of underrepresented groups in geosciences, coastal communities will better innovate in the face of a changing climate and thus a changing coastal system.

Estuaries and Coasts published the study as an open-source article, which means it’s available to read in-full for anyone interested in taking a deeper dive into this important subject matter. Click here to read the full article.

The following individuals worked together to author the study:
  • J. Quispe, Princeton Hydro and Rutgers University Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution
  • L.A. Harris, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
  • T. Grayson, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • H.A. Neckles, US Geological Survey, Eastern Ecological Science Center
  • C.T. Emrich, School of Public Administration, National Center for Integrated Coastal Research, University of Central Florida
  • K.A. Lewis, Department of Biology, National Center for Integrated Coastal Research, University of Central Florida
  • K.W. Grimes, Center for Marine & Environmental Studies, University of the Virgin Islands
  • S. Williamson, National Association of Counties
  • C. Garza, School of Natural Sciences, California State University, Monterey Bay
  • C.R. Whitcraft, Biological Sciences, California State University, Long Beach
  • J. Beseres Pollack, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
  • D.M. Talley, Environmental and Ocean Sciences, University of San Diego
  • B. Fertig, Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship
  • C.M. Palinkas, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
  • S. Park, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation
  • J.M.P. Vaudrey, Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut
  • A.M. Fitzgerald, Biology Department, New Jersey City University

Johnny Quispe, Princeton Hydro’s Natural Resource Management Project Manager, is a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University’s Graduate Program of Ecology and Evolution completing his dissertation on the effects of sea level rise on coastal ecosystems and communities. At Princeton Hydro, Johnny integrates social, economic, engineering, and natural systems into his projects to make coastal communities more resilient to natural disasters and climate change. 

To learn more about Johnny Quispe, go here. And, for more information about Princeton Hydro's Natural Resource Management services, click here.

[post_title] => New study highlights the need to diversify the coastal and estuarine scientific community [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => diversify-geosciences [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-06-16 18:27:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-06-16 18:27:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=8743 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 8736 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2021-05-31 17:55:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-05-31 17:55:01 [post_content] => In April, our Marketing Coordinator, Kelsey Mattison, attended the Westchester Parks Foundation's annual Pitch in for Parks event! This volunteer event, of which Princeton Hydro is a proud sponsor, featured a full day of cleanup and park beautification across Westchester County in New York State. Throughout the day, 14 different park sites saw a total of 838 volunteers! That's a whole lot of impact. Exhibit tables for the event were stationed at the Kensico Dam Plaza, one of the many park sites in Westchester County, located in Valhalla, New York. This park is home to one of the historic Kensico Dam, a 307 foot high by 1,843 feet long dam that forms the Kensico Reservoir, one of the major reservoirs supplying water to New York City and the surrounding area. The dam was completed in 1917 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Bronx River Parkway Reservation. [caption id="attachment_8588" align="aligncenter" width="1230"] Kensico Dam[/caption] Princeton Hydro has been working with the Westchester Parks Foundation since 2019 managing one of their lakes in Tibbets Brook Park in the Bronx. Our Aquatics team has provided invasive species management for European Water Chestnut, which causes overall water quality issues and can impact human and ecological health. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="8719,8717,8574,8718"]   If you're in the area and interested in getting more involved, head over to Westchester Parks Foundation's website to learn more! They have several volunteer opportunities and programs to check out. [post_title] => Westchester Parks Foundation's "Pitch in for Parks" Volunteer Event [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => pitch-in-for-parks-volunteer-event [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-06-01 18:16:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-06-01 18:16:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=8736 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 8324 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2021-05-28 15:54:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-05-28 15:54:02 [post_content] =>

Most of us are familiar with the famous quote "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This sentiment is at the center point of the Highlands Act and Regional Master Plan, which provides funding to help New Jersey’s Highlands communities take a proactive and regional approach to watershed protection.

Historically, private lake associations and municipalities have worked autonomously to address water quality issues and develop improvement plans. Working together, however, and taking a regional approach to lake and watershed management has much farther-reaching benefits. Taking an integrated approach helps improve water quality and reduce incidents of aquatic invasive species and harmful algal blooms (HABs) not just in one waterbody, but throughout an entire region.

The New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council (Highlands Council) is a regional planning agency that works in partnership with municipalities and counties in the Highlands Region of northern New Jersey to encourage exactly such an approach. Created as part of the 2004 New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act (the Highlands Act), the Highlands Council has funded numerous water-quality-related planning grants throughout the region.

“Watersheds are inherently regional; they don’t follow municipal boundaries. So the Highlands Council is in a unique position to address these challenges from that perspective,” says Keri Green, Highlands Council Science Manager. “It’s critical for municipalities to understand what is entering their lakes from the surrounding watershed before they can effectively address in-lake issues. Across the region, the stormwater inlets and roadways that encircle and affect lakes are owned and maintained by the municipalities, and when we can evaluate these inputs, we can plan for how to address impairments.”

In 2019, the Highlands Council funded a Lake Management planning grant for the Borough of Ringwood that adopted this wider watershed view, and would ultimately become a model for similar Highlands Council grants within the region. The Borough chose to engage the services of Princeton Hydro to support the project work.

“This regional approach to lake and watershed management is the obvious choice from a scientific, technical, and community point of view. Historically, however, this approach is rarely taken,” said Princeton Hydro’s Senior Project Manager, Christopher Mikolajczyk, who is a Certified Lake Manager and lead designer for this initiative. “We were thrilled to work with the Borough of Ringwood and the Highlands Council to set a precedent, which has opened the door for the Townships of West Milford and Rockaway, and will hopefully inspire the formation of more public-private lake management partnerships.”

Rockaway Receives Lake Management Planning Grant from the Highlands Council

Rockaway Township in Morris County, New Jersey received Highlands Council grant approval in January to complete a Lake Management Planning Study. Eleven small- to medium-sized lakes in the township are working together for a watershed assessment and comprehensive regional analysis, which will lead to the creation of a Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). The WIP will recommend and prioritize key watershed management measures that will have big impacts on water quality improvement.

Given the large number of lakes in Rockaway Township, and in an effort to keep the study to a reasonable scope, a selection process occurred with input from the Township Engineering office, the Township Health Department, Princeton Hydro and the Highlands Council. The lakes in the Rockaway Township Watershed Management Program include Green Pond, Egbert Lake, Durham Pond, Lake Emma, Camp Lewis Lake, Lake Telemark, Lake Ames, Mount Hope Pond, Mount Hope Lake, White Meadow Lake, and Fox’s Pond.

“Rockaway Township has been proactive about implementing watershed improvement projects in the past, so we were happy to provide funding to support continuing their efforts focusing on these 11 lakes,” explains Lisa Plevin, Highlands Council Executive Director. “It was a very productive collaboration with Highlands staff working in partnership with the Township to develop an approach and Princeton Hydro preparing a scope of work that met everyone’s goals.”

The watershed assessment will entail a number of analyses, including watershed modeling; hydrologic and pollutant loading analysis; watershed-based and in-lake water quality assessments; and tropic state assessments. The assessment aims to:

  1. Identify, quantify and prioritize the watershed-based factors which may cause eutrophication;
  2. Identify the watershed management measures needed to address general causes of water quality impairments;
  3. Identify the relative cost of the recommended general watershed management measures; and
  4. Generate a general schedule, based on priority, for the implementation of the recommended watershed management measures.

Once all the lab data is processed, the watershed modeling is complete, and historical data reviewed, Princeton Hydro will create a General Assessment Report that will summarize the data/observations and identify which watershed management techniques and measures are best suited for immediate or long-term implementation. The team expects to complete the General Assessment Report in the spring of 2022, after a year's worth of 2021 growing season data has been collected.

A Watershed Management Program is Underway in West Milford

In October 2020, the Highlands Council approved funding to support a watershed assessment of 22 private and public lakes in West Milford Township. The watershed assessment project is being implemented in two phases:

For Phase 1, which will take place throughout the course of 2021, Princeton Hydro will provide a historic data review; an examination of hydrologic/pollutant loads; a pollutant removal analysis; and watershed water quality analysis. The pollutants to be modeled include phosphorus, nitrogen, sediment, and bacteria, while the hydrology will include estimates of precipitation, runoff, evapotranspiration, groundwater flux, and ultimately streamflow or discharge.

This analysis will aid the Township in selecting, prioritizing and implementing nutrient and sediment load and stormwater management efforts with a focus on watershed projects that have the greatest overall benefit to the long-term management of surface water quality. The report will also identify examples of site-specific locations where wetland buffers, riparian buffers, and lakefront aqua-scaping can be implemented as part of future watershed management efforts.

For Phase 2 of the project, Princeton Hydro will investigate and assess the water quality of each of the lakes in West Milford Township during the growing season of May - October of 2022. This entails collecting bimonthly water quality samples at each lake, including in-situ water quality data consisting of real-time measurement of clarity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH. The sampling events will also include a general survey of aquatic vegetation and/or algae growth, lake perimeter shoreline observations, and monitoring for nuisance waterfowl. These surveys will provide an objective understanding of the amount and distribution of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and algae occurring throughout each lake over the course of the growing season.

The lakes included in this project are: High Crest Lake, Algonquin Waters, Lake Lookover, Kitchell Lake, Lindys Lake, Mt. Laurel Lake, Shady Lake, Wonder Lake, Mount Glen Lakes (Upper/Lower), Carpi Lake, Pinecliff Lake, Van Nostrand Lake, Upper Greenwood Lake, Post Brook Farms, Farm Crest Acres, Mt. Springs Lake, Forest Hill Park, Johns Lake, Gordon Lake, and Bubbling Springs Lake.

Leading the Way on Regional Lake Management in Ringwood, NJ

At the end of 2019, the Borough of Ringwood became the first municipality in New Jersey to take a regional approach to private lake management through a public-private partnership with four lake associations: Cupsaw, Erskine, Skyline, and Riconda.

The Borough of Ringwood is situated in the northeast corner of the New Jersey Highlands, is home to several public and private lakes, and provides drinking water to millions of New Jersey residents. In order to take an active role in the management of these natural resources, Ringwood hired Princeton Hydro to design a municipal-wide holistic watershed management plan that identifies and prioritizes watershed management techniques and measures that are best suited for immediate and long-term implementation.

Princeton Hydro recently completed a comprehensive assessment of the lakes and watersheds of Ringwood Borough. The assessment included a historical data review, hydrologic and pollutant loading analysis and in-lake and watershed based water quality data studies. The report details the results of Princeton Hydro’s mapping, modeling, and monitoring efforts in each waterbody and its respective watershed, along with specific recommendations for management implementations that are aimed at curbing the effects of nutrient and sediment loading, both within the lakes and their respective watersheds.

“Ringwood, West Milford, and Rockaway are three great examples of how people from different affiliations and backgrounds can come together to address lake and watershed monitoring and management,” said Mikolajczyk. “The key to success is open communication and a common goal!”

To learn more about Princeton Hydro’s natural resource management services, click here. And, click here to learn more about NJ Highlands Council and available grant funding.

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The Iowa Court and South Green Living Shoreline Project in Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton, NJ, was awarded “Best Green Project” by Engineering News-Record magazine. The project is recognized for its use of innovative techniques to install new features to restore damage from Hurricane Sandy and protect the area from future storms.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated communities throughout New Jersey and the entire eastern seaboard. Storm resilience, flood mitigation, and shoreline restoration have since become top priorities for coastal communities and low-lying areas.

The Township of Little Egg Harbor, in conjunction with local partners including the Borough of Tuckerton, was the recipient of a $2.13 million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for a Marsh Restoration and Replenishment project. The grant was secured by New Jersey Future. The purpose of the project was to restore and replenish local marsh, wetlands, and beaches suffering extensive erosion along the shoreline.

T&M Associates, as the Municipal Engineer of Record for the project, oversaw all aspects of the design and implementation. T&M contracted Princeton Hydro to perform sediment sampling/testing and conduct hydrographic surveys, and Arthur Chew Consulting to assist with the feasibility study and design of the dredging project.

The project, which was completed in September 2019, provides long-term protection from erosion and will restore the vegetated shoreline habitats through strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other structural and organic materials. The living shoreline will help in the areas of storm protection, flood mitigation, and combatting shoreline erosion. The project was a great success for the Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton communities.

[caption id="attachment_5584" align="aligncenter" width="899"]  [/caption]

Since the restoration of Iowa Court and South Green Street, this living shoreline model has received significant attention and praise, including in the American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey 2020 Engineering Excellence Awards; the New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers 2019 Project of the Year Awards; and, now, this "Best Green Project" award from Engineering News-Record.

“There is growing interest in this approach from municipalities up and down the Jersey Shore. Storm and flood damage is still a pressing threat to hundreds of towns and boroughs, and it is widely accepted that storms like Sandy will only become more frequent due to the effects of climate change,” said Jason Worth, P.E., Group Manager at T&M Associates. “Thankfully, there is hope in innovation and creativity – with new approaches to living shorelines we can breathe life back into devastated beachfront communities and the natural ecosystems that support them.”

Princeton Hydro specializes in the planning, design, permitting, implementing, and maintenance of coastal rehabilitation projects. To learn more about some of our ecosystem restoration and enhancement services, visit: bit.ly/PHcoastal.

[caption id="attachment_5585" align="aligncenter" width="1016"]  [/caption]

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The Dunes at Shoal Harbor, a coastal residential community in Monmouth County, New Jersey, is situated adjacent to both the Raritan Bay and the New York City Ferry channel.  In July 2018, Princeton Hydro was contracted to restore this coastal community that was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Today, we are thrilled to report that the shoreline protection design plans have been fully constructed and the project is complete.

Rendering of the shoreline protection design
September 2020
A rendering of the shoreline protection design by Princeton Hydro. A snapshot of Princeton Hydro's completed work in September 2020.

In order to protect the coastal community from flooding, a revetment had been constructed on the property many years ago. The revetment, however, was significantly undersized and completely failed during Hurricane Sandy. The community was subjected to direct wave attack and flooding, homes were damaged, beach access was impaired, and the existing site-wide stormwater management basin and outfall was completely destroyed.

July 2018
September 2020
Princeton Hydro performed a wave attack analysis commensurate with a category three hurricane event and used that data to complete a site design for shoreline protection. The site design and construction plans included:
  • The installation of a 15-foot rock revetment (one foot above the 100-year floodplain elevation) constructed with four-foot diameter boulders;

  • The replacement of a failed elevated timber walkway with a concrete slab-on-grade walkway, restoring portions of the existing bulkhead, clearing invasive plants, and the complete restoration of the failed stormwater basin and outlet; and

  • The development of natural barriers to reduce the impacts of storm surges and protect the coastal community, including planting stabilizing coastal vegetation to prevent erosion and installing fencing along the dune to facilitate natural dune growth.

These measures will prevent shoreline erosion, protect the community from wave attacks and flooding, and create a stable habitat for native and migratory species.

During the final walkthrough earlier this month, the Princeton Hydro team captured drone footage of the completed project site. Click below to watch the video:

For more images and background information on this project, check out the following photo gallery and read our original blog post from July 2018:

[gallery link="file" columns="4" ids="5447,5436,5450,5448,5446,5449,5445,5439"] [embed]https://www.princetonhydro.com/blog/dunes-at-shoal-harbor/[/embed]

For more information about Princeton Hydro’s engineering services, go here.

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Last year, there were more than 70 suspected and 39 confirmed Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in New Jersey, which is significantly higher than the previous two years. New Jersey wasn’t the only state impacted by HABs. The increase caused severe impacts on lakes throughout the country, resulting in beach closures, restricting access to lake usage, and prompting wide-ranging health advisories.

In November, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and officials from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced a three-pronged, $13 million initiative to reduce and prevent future HABs in the state. As part of the initiative, NJDEP hosted its first regional HABs Summit with the goal of prevention by improving communication throughout lake communities and sharing information ahead of the warmer months when HABs begin to appear.

The summit, which was held on January 28, 2020 at NJDEP's Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center in Warren County included a Q&A panel discussion, information resource tables for one-on-one discussions, and presentations from a variety of NJDEP representatives and environmental experts. Princeton Hydro's  Director of Aquatics and regional HABs expert Dr. Fred Lubnow’s presentation focused on how to properly and effectively manage HABs.

According to Dr. Lubnow, “Managing loads of phosphorous in watersheds is even more important as the East Coast becomes increasingly warmer and wetter thanks to climate change. Climate change will likely need to be dealt with on a national and international scale. But local communities, groups, and individuals can have a real impact in reducing phosphorous levels in local waters.”

In a recent press release from Governor Murphy’s office, the NJDEP Chief of Staff Shawn LaTourette said, “We will reduce HABs by working closely with our local partners on prevention and treatment techniques, while relying on the best available science to clearly communicate risk to the public. Our new HABs initiative will enhance the Department’s ability to evaluate statewide strategies and increase the capacity of lake communities to reduce future blooms.”

New Jersey’s new HABs initiative is comprised of three main components:

Providing Funding:

More than $13 million in funding will be available to local communities to assist in preventing HABs, including:

  • $2.5 million will be available as matching funds for lakes and HABs management grants, including treatment and prevention demonstration projects.

  • Up to $1 million in Watershed Grant funding will be made available for planning and projects that reduce the nonpoint source pollution, including nutrients, that contribute to HABs in surface waters of the State.

  • $10 million in principal forgiveness grants will be offered through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for half of the cost, capped at $2 million, of sewer and stormwater upgrades to reduce the flow of nutrients to affected waterbodies.

Increasing Expertise & Implementing Prevention Tactics:

Per the Governor’s press release, “the second element of the initiative is to build upon the state’s scientific expertise and enhance its capacity to respond to HAB events. This includes establishing a team of experts from across various sectors to evaluate the state’s strategies to prevent HABs and pursuing additional monitoring, testing and data management capacity.”

Connecting with Communities:

The third component is focused on increasing NJDEP’s ability to communicate with affected communities. The regional HABs Summit held on January 28 was one of two Summits that will occur in early 2020 (the date of the next Summit has not yet been announced). NJDEP has also developed new web tools to provide HABs education, offer a forum to discuss and report potential HAB sightings, and better communicate HAB incidents.

To learn more about New Jersey's new HABs Initiative, click here. To learn more about HABs, check out our recent blog:

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Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) were in the spotlight this summer due to the severe impacts they had on lakes throughout the country. The nation-wide HABs outbreak caused beach closures, restricted access to lake usage, and wide-ranging health advisories.

What exactly are HABs? Why were they so severe this summer? Will this trend continue? Can anything be done to prevent the occurrence or mitigate the impacts?

In this blog, we provide answers to all of those questions, exploring what HABs are, why they occur, why they were particularly prevalent this summer, and what we can do to combat them.

What are HABs?

Simply put, HABs are rapid, large overgrowths of cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, aren’t actually algae, they are prokaryotes, single-celled aquatic organisms that are closely related to bacteria and can photosynthesize like algae. These microorganisms are a natural part of aquatic ecosystems, but, under the right conditions (primarily heavy rains, followed by hot, sunny days), these organisms can rapidly increase to form cyanobacteria blooms, also known as HABs.

HABs can cause significant water quality issues in lakes and ponds, often forming a visible and sometimes odorous scum on the surface of the water. They can produce toxins that are incredibly harmful (even deadly) to humans, animals, and aquatic organisms. HABs also negatively impact economic health, especially for communities dependent on the income of jobs and tourism generated through their local lakes and waterways.

What causes HABs?

HABs are caused by a complex set of conditions, and many questions remain about exactly why they occur and how to predict their timing, duration, and toxicity. Primarily, HABs are caused by warmer temperatures and stormwater run-off pollutants, including fertilizers with phosphates.

NY Times article, featuring Princeton Hydro, looks at how climate change affects lakes nationwide, using NJ as an example. Photo by: Rick Loomis, NY Times.HABs are induced by an overabundance of nutrients in the water. The two most common nutrients are fixed nitrogen (nitrates and ammonia) and phosphorus. Discharges from wastewater treatment plants, runoff from agricultural operations, excessive fertilizer use in urban/suburban areas, and stormwater runoff can carry nitrogen and phosphorus into waterways and promote the growth of cyanobacteria.

Climate change is also a factor in HAB outbreaks, which typically occur when there are heavy rains followed by high temperatures and sunshine. Climate change is leading to more frequent, more intense rainstorms that drive run-off pollutants into waterways, coupled with more hot days to warm the water. These are the ideal conditions for HABs, which in recent years have appeared in more places, earlier in the summer.

With climate change and increasing nutrient pollution causing HABs to occur more often and in locations not previously affected, it's important for us to learn as much as we can about HABs so that we can reduce their harmful effects.

What Can I Do to Prevent HABs?

Signs on the closed beach at Hopatcong State Park warn residents of the Harmful Algae Bloom at Lake Hopatcong on July 2019, in Landing, NJ. (Photo by: Danielle Parhizkaran of NorthJersey.comThe number one thing individuals can do to protect their waterbodies and prevent HABs is to reduce phosphorous use and reduce nutrient loads to waters.

According to Dr. Fred Lubnow, Director of Aquatic Programs for Princeton Hydro, “Managing loads of phosphorous in watersheds is even more important as the East Coast becomes increasingly warmer and wetter thanks to climate change. Climate change will likely need to be dealt with on a national and international scale. But local communities, groups, and individuals can have a real impact in reducing phosphorous levels in local waters.”

Here are a few steps you can take to improve water quality in your community lakes:

Controlling stormwater runoff is another critical factor in improving water quality and reducing HABs. There are a number of low-cost green infrastructure techniques that can be implemented on an individual and community-wide scale. You can read more about green infrastructure stormwater management techniques in our recent blog.

In a recent Op/Ed published on NJ.com, Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll lists four things that residents, businesses, and local governments should do to prevent another HABs outbreak next summer:

  1. Improve aging “gray” infrastructure
  2. Invest in “green” stormwater infrastructure
  3. Implement regional/watershed-based planning
  4. Pass the Water Quality Protection and Jobs Creation Act

"By making the necessary investments, we can simultaneously create jobs, reduce flood impacts, improve fisheries, maintain or increase lakefront property values, improve water quality and preserve our water-based tourism. The time to act is literally now," said Geoff. Go here, to read the full article.

HABs Management in Action through Floating Wetland Islands:

Nitrogen and phosphorus are utilized by plants, which means they uptake these nutrients to sustain growth. We see this naturally occurring in wetland ecosystems where wetlands act as a natural water filtration system and can actually thrive from nutrients flowing in from external sources.

This process is replicated in floating wetland islands (FWIs), where you typically have a constructed floating mat with vegetation planted directly into the material. The plants then grow on the island, rooting through the floating mat.

[caption id="attachment_4363" align="aligncenter" width="554"]This illustration, created by Staff Scientist Ivy Babson, conveys the functionality of a Floating Wetland Island This illustration, created by Staff Scientist Ivy Babson, conveys the functionality of a Floating Wetland Island[/caption]

Not only do FWIs assimilate and remove excess nitrogen and phosphorus out of the water, they also provide habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms; help mitigate wave and wind erosion impacts; provide an aesthetic element; and can be part of a holistic lake/pond management strategy. Because of this, FWIs are being utilized to improve water quality and control HABs in lakes and ponds throughout the country. Princeton Hydro has designed and implemented numerous FWIs in waterbodies large and small. Go here to learn how they’re being used in Harveys Lake.

 

Recognizing and monitoring the changes that are taking place in our local waterways brings the problems of climate change, stormwater pollution and the resulting water quality issues closer to home, which can help raise awareness, inspire environmentally-minded action and promote positive, noticeable change.

If you spot what you believe to be a harmful algae bloom in your community lake, contact your local lake association right away. They, along with their lake management team, can assess the situation and determine what further actions need to be taken.

For more information about harmful algae blooms and water quality management, go here: http://bit.ly/pondlake.

Special thanks to Princeton Hydro Staff Scientist Ivy Babson for her contributions to this blog.

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Did you know that New Jersey is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation? Not only that, did you know the average temperature increase in the state is double the average of the rest of the Lower 48 states?

In a recent article, the Washington Post uncovers quite startling findings from analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties. The article takes a specific look at the impacts climate change has had on Lake Hopatcong.

Princeton Hydro has been working with Lake Hopatcong for 30+ years, restoring the lake, managing the watershed, reducing pollutant loading, and addressing invasive aquatic plants and nuisance algae bloomsLake Hopatcong has one of the longest, continuous, long-term ecological databases in New Jersey; 30+ years of consistently collected water quality data.

Dr. Fred Lubnow, Director of Aquatic Programs, and Katie Walston, Senior Scientist, are featured in the Washington Post article. Here's an excerpt:

On a cool but sunny day in May, Fred Lubnow, director of aquatic programs at Princeton Hydro, and Katie Walston, a senior scientist there, pulled up their anchor in Lake Hopatcong to find it covered with aquatic weeds. The culprit? Fertilizer runoff combined with winters too warm to kill them off.

“The plants start growing earlier and linger around longer, as well,” Lubnow said. The thick ice blocked sunlight from nurturing the weeds. But “in some of these shallow areas, as early as February, we’re looking through the ice seeing the plants growing.”

By summer, the weeds become a nuisance, forcing the state government to “harvest” them with large paddles and toss them onto a conveyor belt, then onto barges. Some years, funding has been hard to get, delaying harvesting and angering homeowners.

“If this area is not harvested, you can’t get a boat through it,” Lubnow says. Swimming isn’t possible, either. Fishing becomes difficult.

Get the full Washington Post story here! If you'd like to read more about climate change, check out our recent blog: [embed]https://www.princetonhydro.com/blog/climate-change/[/embed]

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The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) hosted its 3rd Annual Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Summit! The all-day, virtual seminar included expert presentations and facilitated open-forum discussions related to HAB science, monitoring, response, management, treatment and communication.

Approximately 220 people from around the country participated in the virtual summit, which was free and open to the public. The audience of stakeholders included government officials (local, state, federal); lake and other environmental commissions; watershed associations; environmental nonprofits; businesses; academics; lake management and HAB treatment experts; and folks interested in protecting their community lakes.

Participants heard presentations about “Keeping Your Pets Safe from HABs,” “The Benefit of Riparian Buffers;” and “Stormwater Management and the Use of Green Infrastructure.” Additionally, two members of the NJDEP HAB Expert Team - Dr. Fred Lubnow Director and Dr. Meiyin Wu - gave a presentation on best management practices to prevent, mitigate, and/or control HABs. The 10-person expert team was established as part of Governor Phil Murphy’s plan to enhance scientific expertise around water quality management and bolster the State’s response to HABs.

The Governor’s HABs Initiative was launched in 2019 after lakes throughout NJ (and the entire Continental U.S.) suffered from HAB outbreaks, which caused local and county health agencies to close off all beaches and issue advisories. These unprecedented conditions had significant negative impacts on lake-related ecological, recreational, and economic resources. The Governor’s initiative designated $13 million in funding to local communities for HABs reduction/prevention; established the aforementioned HABs expert team; and coordinated annual HABs summits in order to encourage continued community education and discussion.

If you were unable to attend the 2022 HAB Summit, NJDEP has made the complete morning and afternoon sessions available online:

Watch the Morning Session: 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KzeIP4FY60[/embed]

Watch the Afternoon Session: 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSfJXhcaPCo[/embed]  

The NJDEP Division of Water Monitoring and Standards has an entire website dedicated to HABs. Click here to access educational fact sheets, stay informed on HAB alerts and advisories, and report a HAB sighting.

For more information about HABs, watch a live interview with Dr. Fred Lubnow on Jersey Matters during which he discusses what steps should be taken to prevent HABs, and check out our recent blog:

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