LAKE HOPATCONG - With this weekend’s weather expecting to be clear, sunny and warm, the communities around Lake Hopatcong are gearing up for the warm weather season.

Lake Hopatcong residents say that the water levels of the lakes are much higher than they were last year. They say that this is good news, because last summer the levels in the lake were so low that boaters had to end the season before Labor Day.

“We got a lot of boats in. Last year we were not at this level,” says Bridge Marina owner Ray Fernandez. “I couldn’t put in big boats, but we were able to [survive], kind of working with the new norm.”

One of the issues is the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s “drawdown” or draining of the lake, which is done for maintenance. Fernandez say that the process hurts businesses, especially when there has been little rainfall.

He says that that the lake gained about 10 to 14 inches of water after the ice melted last winter, but then plateaued off.

This year, lakegoers will also have to be aware of Christopher’s Law, which will go into effect for the first time. The law requires pontoon boat renters to complete pre-rental safety instructions. Rental businesses will also have to post a large warning sign about the potential of pontoon boat dangers.

The law was named after 10-year-old Christopher D’Amico Jr., who was killed in a pontoon boat accident last year on Lake Hopatcong.

Fernandez says that he would like to see more regulation and a licensing requirement for renters.

The official season to rent boats on Lake Hopatcong begins May 1.