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Tips on fighting hydrilla and other invasive aquatic plants

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    Residents on Lake Sinclair have the yearly fight with hydrilla without any real concrete answers available. FILE PHOTO

Recently The Eatonton Messenger received a question on our Action Line in regards to fighting hydrilla in Lake Sinclair Our answer was short so we wanted to get some advice from the group who does most of the fighting.

Although it is an ongoing battle with the invasive aquatic nuisance, there are some ways to safely combat the plant.

We reached out to Georgia Power for some clarification on this battle because it is one the utility giant has been fighting for some time.

“Native aquatic plants are essential for a healthy lake – controlling erosion and providing habitat for fish and other lake life. Georgia Power has targeted specific areas in the main body of the lake where invasive plants were found, applying safe, specially formulated aquatic herbicides,” said Georgia Power spokesperson Holly Lovett. “These herbicides must be approved for aquatic use and applicators are required by law be licensed and to follow EPA guidelines to ensure human and environmental health. The company will continue to monitor and treat invasive aquatic plants in this fashion.”

The fight isn’t won with a one-time application and is surely ongoing as Lovett suggested.

“Georgia Power has been treating hydrilla with aquatic herbicides all summer. Georgia Power focuses on keeping navigation channels open and recreation areas clear. Georgia Power has targeted specific areas in the main body of the lake where invasive plants were found, applying safe, specially formulated aquatic herbicides,” she explained. “Residents are responsible for hiring licensed aquatic herbicide applicators with appropriate permits to treat their individual docks or other private structures. (Some residents have found potential savings by joining with neighbors to hire approved contractors to treat broader sections of shoreline.) A no-cost permit is available from Georgia Power to treat up to half an acre of aquatic plants.”

Top tips for controlling invasive aquatic plants:

• Always inspect boat trailers for aquatic plants, mud and fragments, especially if you have visited another lake that may have invasive aquatic plants. Clean boat and trailers to remove any plant fragments and mud and empty any water each time you leave a lake, before putting a boat and trailer into another lake. Don’t transfer plants and fish or other animals between lakes.

• Never dump lawn clippings in the water. Reduce the amount of fertilizer applied on lawns. Yard vegetation and grass can only absorb a certain amount of these nutrients. The remainder washes into the lake and aids aquatic plant growth.

• Don’t try to physically remove hydrilla in the lake with rakes or other tools. The plants break easily and fragments can float away and spread to other areas of the lake.

• NEVER dump storebought herbicides into the water yourself. Chemicals can only be applied by licensed aquatic herbicide applicators with appropriate permits. (Make use of Georgia Power’s aquatic herbicide treatment permit program around your shoreline; permit applications and a list of qualified contractors approved to apply safe and specially formulated herbicides can be found at GeorgiaPowerLakes.com[georgiapowerlakes.com].)