Local News

Hydrilla A Growing Concern At Lake Gaston

Posted October 24, 2003 11:47 a.m. EDT

— An aquatic plant is taking over Lake Gaston. The weed, called


, is choking a 37-mile stretch of the lake.

Thursday, lawmakers on both sides of the North Carolina-Virginia border took a boat tour to see just how bad the problem is. It took just a short boat ride to learn the trouble is just beneath the surface, in shallow water.

Experts said the weeds are thick enough to clog boat motors, tangle swimmers and endanger wildlife.

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. Officials know it will take even more money to tackle the problem.

"I looked at some of those other species of weed we have. We need a comprehensive solution to this thing. It's going to take more than off the cuff to fly," Halifax County Commissioner Gene Minton.

In the ongoing battle against hydrilla, officials will add grass-eating carp to the lake in a few weeks. Satellite photos will also be used to track the plant's growth.

Hydrilla is a big concern in 20 states, including all of the southeast as far north as Connecticut and as far west as California The plant was brought to the U.S. for the first time in Florida in the 1950s.