The Threat of Hydrilla to the Connecticut River

September 8, 2023


Invasive plant and insect species can be deceptively beautiful up close. The red, black, and white spotted lanternfly, for example, is stunning. (But please squash it like the harmful pest it is whenever you encounter it!) The same is true of aquatic plants like hydrilla verticillata, which is becoming the bane of boaters everywhere. It’s a lacy light green plant that is deceptively dangerous.

Last month, I stood at the Chester Boat Basin with marina owner Bob Petzold, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, State Rep. Devin Carney, Connecticut River Steward Rhea Drozdenko, Margo Burns of RiverCOG, Matt Goclowski and Wendy Flynn of DEEP, and biologist Greg Bugbee from the CT Agriculture Experiment Station (CAES), to address the scourge of hydrilla.

As vice-chair of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee, I'm proud that we successfully introduced a bill in 2022 to establish and fund the Office of Aquatic Invasive Species, housed at CAES. At the August press conference, these invasive plant experts introduced the work of the new Office, addressed how hydrilla causes ecological and economic harm, discussed the different research and removal projects being conducted in the Connecticut River, and offered methods of prevention. Prevention is extremely important in controlling hydrilla, as it spreads rapidly, often by clinging to the propellers of boats.



The Chester Boat Basin is one of several sites along the Connecticut River where CAES, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is testing a pink (harmless) “tracer dye” to help them better understand how to address hydrilla. I am grateful for the combined brain power of these biologists, engineers, and advocates.

Sen. Norm Needleman, who could not attend the press conference, said: "By working to study how water flow and downstream activity can result in the spread of such plants, we can better prepare for and respond to the future spread of these plants, better supporting our natural resources."

A note to boaters: once hydrilla has gotten a toehold, it’s very, very hard to eradicate. So please, clean, drain, and dry your boat EVERY time you leave the river. This is true of small paddle craft, too. Click HERE to learn about DEEP’s program to halt the spread of this invasive, which is devastating our waterways.

For more information on CAES and how they can offer information, including surveys and workshops, to homeowners, lakes and ponds associations, marinas, research institutions, and anyone concerned about the ecosystems of our waterways, click HERE.



Press coverage of the event:

Connecticut Public
New London Day
Valley Courier/Zip06
Connecticut River Conservancy