The battle of Newton Lake

Despite recent cleanup efforts, algae-plagued Newton Lake in Collingswood, NJ still resembles a mashup between a terrarium and a tureen. 

So this week Camden County, which owns the beloved 103-acre park, expects to deploy a new strategy: A herbicide called Captain.

The county is paying Princeton Hydro, the well-regarded Ringoes, NJ firm that last month mechanically "harvested" huge swaths of algae, $25,000 for the removal of the plants and the applicaiton of the chemical. 

"By all accounts, it's safe," says Freeholder Jeff Nash, who has been involved in a years-long effort to improve the aesthetics, ecology and other conditions in and around the man-made lake.

Fred Stine, citizen action coordinator with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, also says Captain "is the right one and [will be applied] in an amount not detrimental to fish and wildlife."

But the herbicide, like the mechanical harvesting, is at best a band-aid, both men say. And despite a separate dredging project a decade ago, Newton Lake remains shallow -- and vulnerable to nutrient-rich runoff from surrounding roads and parking lots.

Nash says the county is working with the Camden County Municipal Utilities Auithority to come up with a lasting solution, which Stine insists must include improvements to infrastructure as well as to stormwater management systems.