Local News

Hydrilla Issue Continues To Tax Communities Around Lake Gaston

Posted July 8, 2004

— Some homeowners along Lake Gaston have asked the lake's owner to pitch in to help fight hydrilla -- an aquatic weed that grows out of control and endangers swimmers, boaters and wildlife.

Cathy Mock has lived on Spinnaker Point on Lake Gaston for over 20 years. In recent years, she says hydrilla has turned her lakefront property into an eyesore.

"It seems to get worse every year," she said.

Spinnaker Point has a beautiful, sandy beach that is great to walk on as long as you stay on the sand. The water has become unusable because of hydrilla.

Mock's homeowners' association spends thousands of dollars a year trying to keep the noxious weed from clogging boat motors and tangling swimmers legs.

"We hire a private contractor to come in to kill or spray to retard hydrilla. It seems like pruning a bush -- the next year it's thicker and thicker," she said.

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. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are put into chemical treatment each year with mixed results.

The cost is becoming too much, so homeowners are turning to

Dominion Power

, which owns the lake and uses it to generate electricity.

"I think that some more of the costs should be picked up by the owners of the lake," Lake Gaston resident Dalton Blackman said. "It is beginning to be a nuisance."

The argument, however, is dividing some neighbors.

"I don't think we should spend a lot of time placing blame and trying to get people to contribute that aren't really going to contribute," Mock said. "I think the property owners have a responsibility. I'll probably get kicked out of the association for that."

Mock believes a tax on all property owners is the way to go.

So far, only one of five counties surrounding the lake has considered the tax. Northampton County commissioners decided not to levy the tax until the other counties around the lake agree to pay their share.

While the fighting continues, hydrilla continues to grow full steam.

Dominion Power's local officials chose not to comment.

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