Photo of small hydrilla plants with ruler for scale

Photo of small hydrilla plants with ruler for scale By: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

Yesterday around lunch time, about forty people gathered at the Watershed Center to talk about the biggest aquatic invasion since the discovery of zebra mussels. Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) is an invasive aquatic plant that, if left untreated for too long, will completely overtake a lake or backwater. The short story is this: the plant was likely an import of the aquarium industry and started its spread by aquarium dumping, it grows like crazy and even if you kill the part of the plant that you can see, it produces tubers (like tiny tiny potatoes) in the sediment of the lake that can persist for more than five or six years and still sprout new plants. It’s bad news. More information on the plant and the invasion can be found here at MDC’s Webpage.

You may have heard of this menace in Mike’s Water Wednesday blog about eagles and bacteria, or in the News Leader’s article about the new threat to our waterways. The good news is that data collected over the past couple of years show that the treatment methods in practice right now are effective in decreasing this rapidly spreading species. So far, the plant has been found in a few southwest watersheds, including the Pomme de Terre and the Little Sac. The main thing lacking in the battle against this invader is not expertise or even supplies, it is the manpower needed for monitoring the spread of the plant.

This need was the reason that brought together people from WCO, Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, the City of Springfield, Greene County, and City Utilities to discuss what groups out there may be interested in helping out. The meeting seemed to be a huge success as the group brainstormed and quickly listed a dozen or more untapped groups representing hundreds of volunteers and staff that can be quickly trained to submit Hydrilla reports wherever they go in our region.

The take home message for me was two-fold:

  1. We are fighting it and it is working
  2. We need a lot of eyes on the water to report where Hydrilla has spread and where it has not.

If you tend to find yourself in the water a lot and like looking at plants, let us know and we can put you on the right track to help with this very important fight. Our water depends on it!


Rob Hunt, Watershed Center Coordinator


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