Underwater weed could cause more headaches for boaters this summ - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Underwater weed could cause more headaches for boaters this summer

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OKOBOJI, Iowa (KTIV/KUOO) -

An underwater weed, that is taking a toll in the Iowa Great Lakes, could be coming back this summer.

"Officials say it isn't a question IF curly leaf pond weed will be back in some of the Iowa Great Lakes this coming season, but how bad it will be,"  said KTIV News Partner Steve Schwaller of KUOO Radio. 

Mike Hawkins, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said they know for a fact it's already growing under the ice.

"We're seeing it out there. We saw it this fall. Our staff, doing other activity on the lake, documented that it was already growing this past fall. We had a real late ice up again this year, which didn't help us at all. Usually an early ice-up with a lot of snow cover will push this plant back or retard its growth and that's probably not going to be the case. All of our indications are that it's going to be another heavy year. I'd be surprised it it's not," said Hawkins.

Hawkins added it is still too early to tell for sure if it will be worse than last year. He said they still plan to implement the same control measures that were proposed late last summer. They include chemical treatment of 10 acres on the upper end of East Lake Okoboji and another 10 acres on Lower Gar, along with some mechanical harvesting. 

In addition to a local harvester, Hawkins said, they're still hoping to bring in a second, larger one from Carter Lake, Iowa. Those talks are ongoing. Lake shore property owners should know, not only is it dangerous to put chemicals into the water to try to control curly leaf pond weed, it is also illegal. 

The presence of curly leaf pond weed and other aquatic plants is an indicator of excellent water quality in the lakes. According to Hawkins, water quality in most of the Iowa Great Lakes is the best it has been in the past couple of decades, based on monitoring. The weed can be mechanically removed, along with other vegetation from around docks and boat hoists.

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