LAKE WYLIE In the days after summer flooding north of Lake Wylie, many residents had more debris on their beaches than they knew how to handle. But they werent expecting it to multiply.
Washed up along with trash and tree trunks were pods of alligator weed and hydrilla. Neil Caughran spends weekends on his property just north of Beaverdam Creek. He spent the past four of those weekends gathering weeds.
Its just too much, he said. We need help.
Caughran contacted Duke Energy and the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. Duke sent an employee to survey the property. Caughran considered lobbying for volunteers during next months Riversweep, but didnt know whether organizers would want to tackle weeds on private property.
Because of the current, his side of the lake took the brunt of flooding debris. But unlike other items washing up, the weeds can sink in and reproduce. At its peak, hydrilla is known to grow a foot per day.
There probably are more colonies all around the lake, Caughran said. If this is left unchecked, it could potentially take over the entire South Carolina side of the lake.
In recent years, Duke, the Lake Wylie Marine Commission and S.C. Department of Natural Resources have been battling hydrilla beds by annually stocking sterile Asian grass carp. The fish have been so successful devouring the weeds that what began as 100 acres in 2007 shrank to about 100 square yards last fall.
The carp have done an excellent job in controlling these things, Marine Commissioner Howard Biff Virkler said in June. It looks like the project is really working very well.
Because the fish are sterile, they have to be stocked every year, and varying temperatures mean they can only be stocked in the spring.
June and July brought multiple floods, with some lakes in the Catawba River chain swelling to more than 2 feet above full pond levels. In late July, flooding just north of Lake Wylie in the South Fork River caused the York County Sheriffs Office to urge boaters to stay off the water for a couple of days because of debris.
Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins last week said he hasnt heard of new invasive weeds other than in the area Caughran reported. Nothing else out of the ordinary has been reported as a result of flooding.
Over the summer, we received a lot of reports about other debris from limbs to trees, and of course, tons of trash building up in coves, Perkins said.
His group will have a better picture on Oct. 5, the day of this years Riversweep, the annual volunteer cleanup on the lake.
Given the things we know floated away from docks, especially on Mountain Island Lake and over the dam into Wylie, there probably will be some interesting items found, Perkins said.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less