(Orleans)– Officials say it isn’t a question IF curly leaf pond weed will be back in some of the Iowa Great Lakes this coming season, but how bad it will be. Mike Hawkins, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources tells KUOO news they know for a fact it’s already growing under the ice.

“We’re seeing it out there. We saw it this fall. Our staff, doing other activity on the lake, documented that it was already growing this past fall. We had a real late ice up again this year, which didn’t help us at all. Usually an early ice-up with a lot of snow cover will push this plant back or retard its growth and that’s probably not going to be the case. All of our indications are that it’s going to be another heavy year. I’d be surprised it it’s not.”

Hawkins says they don’t know for sure yet if it will be worse than last year.

“The amount of it that’s coming, it’s going to be hard to predict. We don’t have any good indicators for that, other than we know it’s in most of the places that we’ve looked.”

Hawkins says they still plan to implement the same control measures that were proposed late last summer. They include chemical treatment of 10 acres on the upper end of East Lake Okoboji and another 10 acres on Lower Gar, along with some mechanical harvesting. In addition to a local harvester, Hawkins says they’re still hoping to bring in a second, larger one from Carter Lake, Iowa.

“A lot of logistics. That’s a system that can’t be taken down the road unless we get it loaded onto a semi. We’re still in discussions with the city of Carter Lake and making sure that they’re on board. They’ve had some change in city councilmen and their Mayor as well, so we’re kind of navigating that. But that is the plan, is to try to get that system up here. The city of Orleans has been doing a lot of the lion’s share of the work on this problem with contracting and working with the local contractor, and also looking at figuring out the logistics of who and how this larger system will be operated by and figuring all of that out.”

Hawkins reminds lake shore property owners that not only is it dangerous to put chemical into the water to try to control curly leaf pond weed, but it’s also illegal. He says they can, however, mechanically remove it and other vegetation from around docks and boat hoists, as well as a 15 foot wide path to open water.

On a positive note, Hawkins says the presence of the plants are an indicator of excellent water quality in the lakes. He says water quality is the best it’s been in the past couple of decades, based on monitoring results.

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