Cayuga County Worries About Spread Of Hydrilla

May 8, 2017

SYRACUSE (WRVO) - Cayuga County officials want to prevent the spread an invasive species in Cayuga Lake, before it becomes impossible to contain. 

Credit Ellen Abbott, WRVO

Cayuga County Legislature Chair Keith Batman calls it a “devil weed.” He’s talking about hydrilla, one of the most invasive aquatic species in the world. It’s plagued Cayuga Lake for six years now, and measures to eradicate hydrilla in the Cayuga Inlet near Ithaca using herbicides have been successful. But last year, it was spotted further north in the lake.

"Right now there’s about 26 acres in Cayuga Lake near Aurora, so that’s the patch we’re focusing on,” Batman said.

Batman says the county will embark on a multi-year program this year to destroy the hydrilla. Officials haven’t decided just how, but he expects whatever method they choose it will be costly -- running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Batman worries that the weed, which chokes waterways, will migrate to the more shallow northern part of the lake. There, says Batman, it’s growth will explode. And he doesn’t want Cayuga Lake to end up like waterways in Florida, which are so matted with the weed, there’s no boating or swimming.

"Florida is spending millions and millions and millions of dollars every year, not to combat hydrilla, not to stop their problem, but simply to keep it from spreading, keep it from getting worse. That’s why we have to be very aggressive. Aggressive this year and next.”