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Invasive plant species creates nuisance on Alabama lakes

Updated: Aug. 21, 2019 at 5:24 PM CDT
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LAKE JORDAN, Ala. (WSFA) - David Green was careful how he steered his 20-foot pontoon boat on Lake Jordan when we met him Wednesday.

“It’s breaking the surface of the water right there," Green pointed toward a patch about 30 yards away.

It’s called hydrilla and “it becomes a nuisance in a hurry," according to Green.

Here is the paradox of the hydrilla plant; it looks harmless as it sways with the ebb and flow of the currents. But below the surface, the feather light plant can wreak havoc on a $30,000 boat engine.

David Green drives his boat on Lake Jordan, always cautious not to run into hydrilla for fear...
David Green drives his boat on Lake Jordan, always cautious not to run into hydrilla for fear it will damage his engine.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

“Kill it if you can," said William Hartley, who made no secret he wants it gone and wants it gone now.

Both men credit Alabama Power for coming close to doing just that.

Below the surface, the feather light plant can wreak havoc on a boat engine.
Below the surface, the feather light plant can wreak havoc on a boat engine.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

“We had a neighbor trying to get back to our slew and it choked his boat down," Hartley remembered.

The hydrilla plant grows as much as “one to two inches a day," said Green. A plant native to Asia, Africa and Australia, it’s not clear how hydrilla got into Lake Jordan.

It’s been drastically cut back, though, after Alabama Power recently sprayed an EPA-approved chemical underwater and introduced the carp fish, which naturally feeds off the aquatic plant.

The hydrilla plant grows as much as two inches a day. It's native to Asia, Africa, and ...
The hydrilla plant grows as much as two inches a day. It's native to Asia, Africa, and Australia, but has appeared in Alabama waters.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

“The primary thing right now is to see what works and how well it works," said Alabama Power spokesman Ike Pigott.

You could say David Green has found another way to overcome the hydrilla ‘monster.’ As a former police officer, he put his investigative skills to work to put it to good use. He dropped volumes of hydrilla near a big tree in his yard with the hope it’ll stop erosion.

“I think it’ll hold dirt, but only time will tell," he said.

For now, Green’s gaze is out yonder on the 6,800 acres of water that make up Lake Jordan, hoping the uninvited guest at the lake stays away.

Alabama Power, meanwhile, says it’s also keeping tabs on hydrilla growth in the upper Tallapoosa River and Neely Henry Lake.

Copyright 2019 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.