January 31, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 24°F


Mayor declares environmental emergency over hydrilla

Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson declared a state of environmental emergency in the City of Ithaca in a press release today, asking Tompkins County Sheriff Ken Lansing to close the Cayuga Inlet until further notice due to the presence of hydrilla.

Hydrilla, an invasive aquatic species, was found in the Cayuga Inlet in August. Photograph courtesy of Robert Johnson.

Hydrilla, an invasive water plant, was found in the Cayuga Inlet, Cascadilla Creek and Linderman Creek in August, and the infestation now occupies at least 95 acres of water, according to the release. In addition to affecting recreational freshwater use for activities such as boating, the presence of hydrilla can be detrimental to water quality and the welfare of neighboring wildlife.

In the release, Peterson cited a lack of emergency action to limit the spread of hydrilla could allow the infestation to spread into other regional waterways. If left unaddressed, Peterson said in the release, the existing hydrilla plants could reproduce and their presence would increase exponentially.

The Cayuga Inlet Hydrilla Task Force, a group formed in August to address the infestation and raise public awareness, advised closing the inlet for about two weeks this month to facilitate the use of a herbicide to eliminate the plant’s presence.

About two weeks ago, the city began asking boaters to voluntarily stop boating and leave their boats docked in the Cayuga Inlet until the herbicide was administered. Tompkins County lawmakers approved use of the herbicide last week.

Check back later for more updates.