Meet the newest threat to CNY waterways, hydrilla plants

Many local waterways have their eyes on the latest invasive species threat, hydrilla.

The hydrilla plant species was first noticed last year in Cayuga Lake, and has been a growing problem ever since.

Former SUNY-ESF Aquatic Biology Professor, Dr. Robert Werner explains some of hydrilla's bad traits.

"It clogs all the water space. It fills up the whole area so that you can't swim, you can't boat, and there's no habitat for fish. Native plants are killed. You get big messy material along the shoreline, so it's not a very pleasant plant," said Werner.

It does appear the hydrilla has been contained to the inlet at the south end of Cayuga Lake near Ithaca. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently approved the use of herbicides to attack the hydrilla.

Werner says in addition to the general concerns of putting toxic chemicals into water, hydrilla has some unique properties that make the use of herbicides somewhat dangerous.

"This plant is a bio-accumulator, and it picks up various kinds of heavy metals, like mercury, and accumulates them in the tissue. It's possible that it could accumulate some of the material in the herbicide in it's tissue, and that's not a good thing," said Werner.