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Milfoil eradication making progress

The Tri-County Skaneateles Lake Milfoil Project is well underway trying to rid the pristine lake of the last 10 or so acres of the invasive species.

Under the auspices of the Tri-County Skaneateles Lake Association, divers hit the water for the first time this year on May 18 and once again began pulling the weeds that plant themselves in the bottom of the lake. Divers swim to the bottom of the lake and pull the plants, then send them up to the surface and the boat through a suction device.

The dives are being restricted to less than an hour each because of the current water temperature. When the first dive took place this year the water was a chilly 47 degrees.

"We keep our dives down to about a half hour each," said John Menapace, project manager for the group. "Right now we have three boats out so generally we have two divers out at a time."

The group's initial effort in cleaning up Skaneateles Lake was in 2006 when they did a pilot program to be sure their method of suctioning was going to work, Menapace said. In 2007 the organization had three boats and about 15 divers out in the water and by 2008 their fleet had increased to six boats and about 30 divers.

"They're all certified divers. They all go through a test to make sure they understand the process," Menapace said.

As project manager for the group, Menapace oversees everything with the exception of fundraising, which is a big focus at this time. This year the price tag is about $300,000.

To keep the divers in the water for the entire summer, the organization is in need of between $200,000 and $250,000 more than what they currently have, said Bob Werner, treasurer for the organization.

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