Plants Proliferating in Downtown Waters
Two plant species are overrunning Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek. The invasive lake weed water milfoil and cabomba, a native plant, have proliferated in recent months.
Mary Gilroy, an environmental scientist at the city of Austin, says that the drought and decreased water flow from the Highland Lakes are to blame.
“LCRA is not releasing water from Lake Travis the way they have in summers past,” Gilroy said. “Typically they release thousands of cubic feet per second every day. This year that’s not happening.”
While the plants have hampered some recreational activities, Gilroy says the surge in plant growth is a positive rather than a negative. Water milfoil and cabomba help mediate nutrient levels in the lake and creek. Gilroy says that actually helps prevent dangerous algal blooms.
The city says it will continue to monitor the growth of both plants to ensure public safety.