High-tech fight on aquatic invasive plants in Lake Tahoe shows promising results
March 1, 2019
Tahoe Resource Conservation District, in collaboration with Inventive Resources, Inc., has found promising results using a new approach to combat aquatic invasive plants, one of the greatest threats to Lake Tahoe's ecology and clarity.
Results from the first ever pilot project support initial laboratory findings that the application of ultraviolet-C light results in observed mortality of submerged aquatic plants.
Most submerged aquatic plants treated with the light exhibited signs of deterioration or complete collapsing within 7 to 10 days following treatment. As a result, Tahoe Resource Conservation District is recommending continued use and analysis of ultraviolet light as a control tool at Lake Tahoe.
The initiative was made possible thanks to a Proposition 1 grant from the California Tahoe Conservancy and private contributions from the Tahoe Fund. The project served two main purposes; to determine the success of the UV-C light treatments as a tool for aquatic invasive plant control in Lake Tahoe, and to provide information to support future environmental document analysis. Ultraviolet-C light works by damaging the DNA and cellular structure of invasive plant life that currently threaten the health of the Lake.
"We are pleased that our company was able to participate in such an exciting project that demonstrates the innovative positive impact technology can have on the environment and our community," said John J. Paoluccio, President of Inventive Resources, Inc. "We are so proud that we were able to help add a new treatment control method to combat the spread and reduce the amount of aquatic invasive plants in Lake Tahoe."
Paoluccio brought the idea of using this technology to treat aquatic invasive plants at the late after successful treatment of algae in sensitive cave environments.
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Inventive Resources initiated a project using the light to treat aquatic plants in their laboratory and it was very successful, showing five to 15-minute exposure times deteriorated the plants. Complete eradication of aquatic invasive plants may not be achieved with only one treatment, but a decrease in plant percent cover, mean plant height, and plant density, was observed. It is believed that with a consistent and comprehensive treatment plan, Ultraviolet-C will be a successful tool to control aquatic invasive plants in Tahoe waterways, paired with other approved techniques.
"Invasive plant populations can be reduced, and with continued treatments and a combination of tools available, we will be better equipped to manage populations around the lake in the future," said Nicole Cartwright, executive director for Tahoe RCD. "We are encouraged by the results and look forward to additional UV-C light treatment projects to explore the full potential of this new tool."
Tahoe Resources Conservation District is currently working on an environmental document analysis that expands available methods and techniques to implement lake-wide control methods for treatment of aquatic invasive plants at Lake Tahoe. This revised document will include Ultraviolet-C light along with other proven mechanical techniques.
Aquatic invasive species pose a serious threat to the recreational and natural resources of the Lake Tahoe watershed. The invasive species compete with native species and can increase algae growth that contributes to the decline of Lake Tahoe's famous water clarity. Invasive aquatic plants threaten the abundant recreational opportunities and natural wonders Lake Tahoe offers. Thick aquatic plant growth hinders navigation and can tangle on rudders, hulls and paddles. This thick aquatic vegetation also provides an unnatural habitat that allows other non-native species to establish.
For the full final monitoring report, please visit https://tahoercd.org/tahoe-aquatic-invasive-species-resources/.
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