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B'ville: Water chestnut still a problem on waterways

The water chestnut, an invasive aquatic weed, continues to plague business owners, landowners and boaters along the Seneca River and in Cross Lake.

Despite efforts to eradicate the water chestnut, the problem is worsening, and the community needs financial help to fight the plant. The numbers of plants increase exponentially, as one seed from the plant produces 15 new plants. If the seeds are allowed to spread, the water chestnut continues to grow until frost hits the area.

In Baldwinsville, water chestnut seeds from Cross Lake float down to the Seneca River. Brian Borchik said the problem must be addressed there to help the issue in the river.

Cooper's Marina has received thousands of dollars in past years to get rid of the weed, but the state financial crisis has severely limited the amount of money allocated toward this.

Water chestnuts typically grow to about 15 feet in length, developing best in relatively shallow, slow-moving water along the shoreline and toward the center of the river. This limits and even prohibits boating, swimming and fishing in these areas, Borchik said. The weeds are so thick boats can't move over them, people could get tangled in the weeds and drown, and the plants deplete the water of oxygen fish need to live.

The growth of the invasive species has developed over the past 8 to 10 years, said Ray Cooper, owner of Cooper's Marina in Baldwinsville.

"I don't think it affects the boater as much as it does the landowners and the people who own the businesses, property and homes on the waterways," Cooper said.

Cooper said his business has suffered because the weed growth is severe enough that people don't want to dock their boats there for fear that the plants will cause damage. If a water chestnut gets wrapped around the water intake, the boat will overheat, and they get caught around the propeller.

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