Water Quality | Aquatic Nuisance Species
Non-native plants, fish, and other organisms are a growing presence in the waters of New England and New York State. Whether introduced accidentally or intentionally, their sudden entry into complex, intricately interwoven ecosystems leads to unpredictable results. Those that cause harm are called aquatic nuisance species (ANS).
Perhaps the best-known ANS is the zebra mussel, which has spread across the U.S., disrupting the food chain and clogging power plant and drinking water intakes. Another damaging ANS in our region is the Eurasian water milfoil, a plant that's invaded waters throughout New England, displacing native plants and reducing biodiversity. Once established, ANS are difficult to control and often impossible to eradicate because of their ability to out-compete native species for resources and their lack of natural predators. Control measures for ANS include mechanical (cutting/pulling), chemical (aquatic pesticides), and biological (introduction of natural predators specific to the ANS). The most effective measures to control ANS are prevention, early detection, and rapid response to new invasions.
NEIWPCC has joined with other organizations to step up efforts to address the ANS problem. As a founding member of the Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel, we have played a key role in the panel's efforts to increase visibility of ANS problems in the Northeast and facilitate funding and grant awards to the region.
Through our partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP), we are also playing a direct role in the fight against the spread of the zebra mussel. NEIWPCC staff assist the Lake Champlain Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program by sampling the lake and its tributaries for juvenile mussels and looking for changes in water chemistry that may have occurred as a result of zebra mussel introduction. We also participate in sessions aimed at determining ways to prevent ANS from moving through the Champlain Canal system.
For more information, contact Theresa Portante-Lyle, or wetlands and monitoring coordinator.