City Winning War On Hydrilla Problem, At Least On Most Fronts

It's a problem we've reported on before.

We visit another lake dealing with a monster from the deep. That's the water weed Hydrilla, which chokes boat engines and is a favorite hiding place for snakes. But the city of Jacksonville has been waging battle at their main source of drinking water -- Lake Jacksonville.

"I tried to get out this spring when the water was high, but I nearly ruined my boat," says resident Tom Woyt.

It looks you could tiptoe across the north end of the lake, but the Hydrilla is deceiving. It's a carpet that no boat can power through.

"I used to hire a bunch of people to go from other end of the lake with lakes and shovels getting it out," says resident Evangalan Saye, who now says that option to clear the Hydrilla is too expensive.

They've all seen the Asian water weed Hydrilla spread like wildfire.

Not far away though, it's clear sailing. In the center of the lake, there's just a little dying Hydrilla.

"We will never ever get all the Hydrilla out of the lake," says the city's Parks and Recreation Director Wade Davis. He says most of the lake has been treated with a special herbicide, and it has worked, though it's just a temporary solution.

"The chemical treatment works very well," he says, though this mess still remains in the north end, very close to the city's water intake. Herbicides are banned around it.

The folks out here say the solution would be Triploid Grass Carp -- a non-native solution fish that loves the non-native plant.

"The grass carp are a cheaper alternative to solve the problem," says resident Brent Bingham.

Management of the fish is tricky. They eat other plants as well as Hydrilla, but the city says it will consider them graze on the north end. Until a solution for the whole lake is found, folks here say they'll just have to paddle out, if they want to use the lake they love.

"Now, it's hideous," Saye says.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.