On Sept. 10, 2010, a group of community members concerned about the clean up and maintenance of Claytor Lake took a tour of the residential area, which is currently being treated for an invasive underwater vegetation, hydrilla. Skip Wiegersma, owner of Skip’s Aquatic Solutions, is currently treating many areas of the lake taken over by hydrilla.
According to Wiegersma, hydrilla can grow five to six inches per day, accumulating layers of algae on the surface leaving large patches of green film in the lake. Over time, the hydrilla problem at Claytor Lake has become increasingly worse.
“By far, Claytor Lake is the worst I treat,” said Wiegersma. “It’s actually to the point where I’m having a hard time treating it.”
Many homeowners around the lake cannot even access the waters without taking time consuming paths to evade the hydrilla. The cost of treating the hydrilla can be high and sometimes Wiegersma can only treat a path for the boats, rather than treating the source of the problem.
He attributes the main source of the hydrilla problem to Claytor Lake having organic soil instead of rocky soil found at other lakes in the area. However, the Claytor Lake area climate does keep the problem from being much worse.
“One thing in favor here is the shorter growing season. Once water gets down to 60 degrees it stops (growing),” he said.
Wiegersma suggests other areas of the lake community get their portions of the lake treated for hydrilla to completely stop the planets growth. “I would really recommend that the marinas get sprayed somehow because that’s where it’s going to get brought in, tore up and brought out.”
“The only redeeming value is that it feeds my family,” said Wiegersma. “Everything’s got its benefit until it’s useless. (Hydrilla) is great for fishing but once it gets this massive, it’s a nuisance.”
According to the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at the University of Florida, “Hydrilla stems are slender, branched and up to 25 feet long. Hydrilla’s small leaves are strap-like and pointed. They grow in whorls of four to eight around the stem. The leaf margins are distinctly saw-toothed.
“Hydrilla often has one or more sharp teeth along the length of the leaf mid-rib.
Hydrilla produces tiny white flowers on long stalks. It also produces one-fourth inch turions at the leaf axils and potato-like tubers attached to the roots in the mud,” said Wiegersma.