Undoubtedly many of you are becoming increasingly active on the Lake over the past few weeks, but you aren’t the only ones enjoying the weather conditions. The warm temperatures and increased daylight have also awoken various aquatic weeds in Kerr Lake and Lake Gaston, including hydrilla. As seen in the photo above, Hydrilla sprouts from 2 to 6 inches in length have sprung up from their winter dormancy and are growing quickly to the surface. Many of you have not, and will not notice the problem plant until it begins to cause major issues for you, your boat, or your favorite swimming/fishing hole.

If you are hoping not to be tangled in the mats later this summer, then maybe contacting a certified applicator is the next step. For those of you on Lake Gaston, the public aquatic weed treatment sites were announced recently and can be found in the web links for additional information below. If you are not in an area receiving publicly funded treatment, and have traditionally had problems with hydrilla in the past, now is the time to get together with your neighbors or HOA and schedule private treatment before many of the applicators have a full schedule.

For those of you on Kerr Lake, there is currently no public funding for herbicide control of aquatic weeds but shoreline customers who want to treat Hydrilla may contract an approved applicator to do so. The Corps of Engineers also plans to allow hand removal of the plant, but as mentioned in earlier articles (see Aquatic Invasive Plant Species Control), this is often not very effective in alleviating problems and can even spread plants like Hydrilla. A list of approved applicators for Kerr Lake can be found in the web links for additional information under “Kerr Lake Approved Applicators”.

In any case, please do not attempt to apply herbicides yourself. Not only can you cause unintended harm by using inappropriate/ineffective products and concentrations, it is also a violation of Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter III Part 327, which could possibly lead to fines or imprisonment.

Lastly, there are a few things you can do to keep from “fueling” the problem. As you know from previous articles, aquatic plants rely primarily on sunlight and nutrients. There isn’t a whole lot we can do about the sun but we can reduce the amount of excess nutrients we allow into areas around where we live, swim, fish, etc. Make sure that you or your landscaper don’t allow yard waste, including grass clippings and leaves into the lake. These plants eventually decompose allowing nutrients to be released back into the system. The same can be said for utilization of fertilizers near the water that can promote aquatic plant growth. In most cases, try not to plant/grow grass directly to the shoreline. A riparian buffer (robust vegetation along the shoreline, including non-nuisance emergent aquatic plant species) can also aid in buffering excess nutrients from finding their way into the water and feeding problem species. I strongly suggest reviewing all shoreline management protocols before attempting to plant any species along the shoreline of either lake as there are many restrictions.

Also consider the excess number of individuals using your home (and facilities….) during the summer. Failing septic systems can cause big problems for water quality and have been known to seep into waters, contributing excess nutrients that can be linked directly to increased aquatic plant growth (see “Troublesome Black Mats from Beneath”). Ensuring the condition of your septic system can not only reduce the potential for excess plant growth but can also ensure the quality of the water in which you spend most of the summer.

Ideally, many of you should already have plans in place no matter what way you plan to stifle hydrilla growth in your area. Acting now and planning earlier in the future can reduce a lot of headache associated with aquatic weed growth in the later portion of the summer and for seasons to come.

Web Links For Additional Information:
Lake Gaston Aquatic Weed Treatment Sites
Kerr Lake Approved Applicators

If you have questions please contact your Aquatic Extension Associate, Brett M. Hartis, at (919)-515-5648 or email at bmhartis@ncsu.edu.