At our Cazenovia Town Board meeting a few weeks ago, a new resident asked whether it is safe to swim in Cazenovia Lake, in light of the chemical treatment program to control the invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian watermilfoil.
We answered “yes, swimming can resume one day after the treatment is completed,” and provided information about the herbicide triclopyr (trade name Renovate OTF). We also outlined why, and how, the community had decided that the herbicide treatment program was the preferred alternative for controlling milfoil in Cazenovia Lake.
As she left with her young daughters in tow, she mentioned that the issue of whether the herbicide can harm children as they swim is of concern to the community. We, the town board members, reflected that public education and outreach had been far more extensive during the first years of the triclopyr application in 2009 and 2010, and that an update is in order.
Hence, this brief review:
The herbicide triclopyr kills milfoil by interfering with the biochemical processes within the plant cells. Triclopyr mimics the plant growth hormone auxin and causes uncontrolled and disorganized plant growth leading to plant death, over a period of days or weeks. Please note that animals, including humans, do not have the plant growth hormone auxin as part of our metabolism. The chemical is classified by USEPA as “practically non-toxic” to animals, which is the lowest classification on their standard scale. The NYSDEC also heavily regulates herbicides, and has placed many requirements on Cazenovia for specific studies and protective measures prior to granting the permits.
The town website townofcazenovia.org has a great deal of information regarding triclopyr and the analysis we used, in collaboration with the Cazenovia Lake Association and the village of Cazenovia, to complete the environmental impacts analyses required for getting regulatory approvals and permits to conduct the lake treatment.