CT Groups Work to Eliminate Invasive Aquatic Species
Thursday, August 24, 2023
Connecticut legislators and environmentalists are taking action against an invasive species in the Connecticut River.
Hydrilla was first identified in the waterway in 2016, and has slowly made its way to other parts of the state. Surveys done in 2019 and 2020 found the plant made its way as far as Agawam, Massachusetts. Now, the concern is it can lead to other waterways such as the Long Island Sound.
Rhea Drozdenko, river steward for the Connecticut River Conservancy, described the long-term effects Hydrilla can have.
"Hydrilla will completely outcompete any other native aquatic species including eelgrass, which is really beneficial for our native wildlife, our native fish," Drozdenko explained. "It can completely take over, replace all native plants with itself."
She pointed out the plant's decomposition at the end of the season consumes a lot of oxygen from the water column.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be applying nontoxic Rhodamine dye to different parts of the Connecticut River to learn more about how to maintain and eliminate the species. Site-specific treatment surveys will be done in fall 2024 to review the Hydrilla's condition.
Some short-term solutions being taken to battle Hydrilla include establishing benthic barriers along the Connecticut River and having boaters practice the clean, drain and dry method.
Drozdenko noted some of the challenges the species poses to the river.
"If a cove gets completely choked out by Hydrilla, no one's going to come and put their boat in there anymore," Drozdenko contended. "They're not going to come to that town. So, there's a lot of fears around economic and tourist loss."
The National Invasive Species Information Center finds most East Coast states have some form of Hydrilla in their waterways.
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