Salem County Officials Warn Public to Avoid Contact with County Lakes Due to Harmful Algal Bloom

Elmer Lake is one of six lakes that the Salem County Department of Health and Human Services. Photo credit: Kevin Howard

SALEM COUNTY — Officials from the Salem County Department of Health and Human Services are asking the public to avoid coming into contact with water in several lakes in Salem County due to the presence of a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB).

The waters of concern include Memorial Lake (Woodstown), East Lake (Pilesgrove), Avis Mill Pond (Pilesgrove), Daretown Lake (Daretown), Slabtown Lake(Pilesgrove), and Elmer Lake (Elmer) and all parts of the Salem River between Daretown and Memorial Lakes.

The department also urges that people avoid swimming, water sports, and other activities including fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and recreational boating.

Fish caught in these waters should not be eaten. Pets and livestock should not drink or come into contact with these bodies of water.

Harmful Algal Blooms which is caused by cyanobacteria can result in a range of health effects including rashes, allergy-like reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation, and eye irritation. Symptoms can occur in sensitive individuals even at levels below the New Jersey Health Advisory Guidance.

Exposure to more HAB that is actively producing cyanotoxins may result in more serious health effects, including liver toxicity and neurological effects.

The New Jersey Health Advisory Guidance recommends that the public avoid swimming or coming in contact with water when cell counts are greater than 20,000 cells per milliliter or microcystin levels are above 3 micrograms per liter.

The Salem County Department of Health and Human will monitor water quality through visual surveillance. Once the bloom is no longer visible the water will be tested by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

It’s difficult to predict how long the HAB will last, once the HAB reaches safe levels the advisory will be lifted.

For information on Harmful Algal Blooms and DEP testing and aerial surveillance data, visit

Report a suspected HAB by calling the NJDEP Hotline at 1-877-WARNDEP (877-927-6337).