Thurmond Lake Hydrilla Update

Last week we asked our readers for topics they would like us to cover on Balancing the Basin; and we received several questions about hydrilla at J. Strom Thurmond Lake. This post provides an update on the hydrilla issue and potential treatment.

Hydrilla, an invasive aquatic plant, has gradually expanded its reach along Thurmond Lake’s shoreline since the mid-‘90s. Hydrilla is present along approximately 53 percent of Thurmond’s shoreline. Since water depth and available nutrients limit its growth, hydrilla only impacts about 7 percent of the lake’s total surface acreage.

Hydrilla is linked to the spread of Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy (AVM)—a disease tied to a number of deaths in American Bald Eagles and various species of waterfowl.

We posted a detailed update about hydrilla in December 2013. This post is still relevant and accurate, so we encourage you to take a look if you haven’t already seen it.

The future of hydrilla treatment at Thurmond Lake depends on receiving federal funding from Congress and/or funding from other federal, state, and local governments. Total funding for all Thurmond Lake programs has been substantially reduced for fiscal year 2014. We requested funding in the 2014 budget for an Environmental Assessment to evaluate the impacts of using sterile grass carp to treat hydrilla, but that funding was not approved by Congress.

Corps staff will monitor hydrilla growth throughout the summer growing season (May through September). We will identify and prioritize treatment needs (via herbicides), but funding may only be available to treat major Corps boat ramps that have serious hydrilla impacts. The treatment plans will be coordinated with the Georgia and South Carolina Departments of Natural Resources, local agencies and affected out-grantees.

We are in the early phases of putting together a bi-state team to develop a new AVM Management Plan to address AVM at Thurmond Lake. Currently, hydrilla treatment is managed within the Corps’ annual Aquatic Plant Management Plan, but this new project would create a separate management plan solely focused on hydrilla and AVM with support and expertise from state natural resource agencies. This spring we met with representatives from the Georgia and South Carolina DNRs to discuss this project.

Click here to read the 2014 Aquatic Plant Management Plan.

Click here to read the survey results from the University of Georgia public opinion survey on hydrilla and grass carp.

We welcome your comments and questions in the comments section below.

~Tracy Robillard, public affairs specialist

About US Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District oversees a multi-million dollar military construction program at 11 Army and Air Force installations in Georgia and North Carolina. We also manage water resources across the Coastal Georgia region, including maintenance dredging of the Savannah and Brunswick harbors; operation of three hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along the upper Savannah River; and administration of an extensive stream and wetland permitting and mitigation program within the state of Georgia. Follow us on Twitter @SavannahCorps and on Facebook.com/SavannahCorps
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