WARREN COUNTY, N.C. — The cost of living on Lake Gaston could be on its way up because of an aquatic weed that is choking the life out of the lake.
Warmer weather has boat owners itching for a ride on the water and dreading
, a weed that will slow them down.
"In some of the coves it stops them dead," lake resident Bill Donoughue said. "This weed is now dormant. As the temperature warms up this weed will take off."
Hydrilla grows faster than chemicals can kill it. It can grown 8 inches a day and its stems can grow up to 25 feet in length.
In the shallow water near Lake Gaston Estates, the noxious weeds can tangle swimmers' legs and stall boat engines.
"Along in here, the hydrilla back in those little coves, I think I got about 7 or 8 families and they take a beating in there," Donoughue said.
This year, funding to fight the weed with chemicals and carp will cost about twice as much as last year.
"We've never quite had enough funding to really get it under control," lake resident John Slaton said.
Infrared satellite images taken in the fall show the lake is nearly 18 percent infested. The losing battle with hydrilla has sparked talk of a tax on lakefront property owners.
"Each property owner would pay $100 a year to treat the whole lake," resident Bob Etheridge said.
The tax would raise an estimated $1.7 million a year, enough to fight the hydrilla war. It is now up to the five counties surrounding the lake to approve the new service tax.