AUSTIN (KXAN) - The City of Austin is ramping up its fight against the invasive plant, hydrilla . It's nuisance for boaters and swimmers on the lakes, especially Lake Austin.
Hydrilla was introduced in 1999. In 2003, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department approved using sterile Asian grass carp to keep it under control.
"We had five good years from -- 2005 to 2010 -- where we just kept a maintenance level of grass carp in the lake," said Mary Gilroy, City of Austin environmental program coordinator. "The hydrilla never went away. We never thought we'd be able to eradicate it, but we kept it under 50 or 100 acres so the lake was very useable."
Our drought is changing that. The Lower Colorado River Authority hasn't approved the city's requests for draw downs on Lake Austin recently. The draw downs expose the hydrilla, hampering its growth. Lake Travis' water level is too low to refill Lake Austin.
Also, as Lake Travis' water level drops, it warm up.
"When the level of Lake Travis goes down, the water coming out of Lake Travis is much warmer and that's the water that's feeding Lake Austin," said Gilroy. "So in 2011, we started seeing an increase in water temperature on Lake Austin."
Hydrilla thrives in warmer water.
"The highest the hydrilla got before 2011 was 320 acres and now suddenly we're looking at 600 acres," said Gilroy.
The carp aren't keeping up. So, the city is adding more to combat the issue. 9,000 sterile asian grass carp from Arkansas were introduced to Lake Austin Thursday.
"We went from 50 fish per acre to 55 fish per acre," said Gilroy. "That's what this 9,000 fish will do for us."
Gilroy adds that more traffic on Lake Austin means boaters need to extra aware.
"Those not use to boating on this lake need to be aware that those large amounts of hydrilla can slow your boat down, cause people to swerve to get out of the way of hydrilla, and so everybody just needs to be really patient and use extra caution when they're using the lake this summer," said Gilroy.
If there is no decline in the hydrilla by July, the city will look into adding even more fish.
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