ECHPC – European Water Chestnut

European Water Chestnut, Aquatic Nuisance Weed, Found in Connecticut Waters

European Water Chestnut“The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) has discovered the non-native, invasive plant, water chestnut, in Keeney Cove on the Connecticut River in Glastonbury. Water chestnut will pose a real danger if it becomes established in Connecticut. It has the potential to become the dominant plant in the shallow waters of all Connecticut River coves, including the tidal freshwater coves from Hartford to Essex.

Staff at the DEP, in an effort to prevent the spread of this invasive plant into Connecticut, have been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations in Massachusetts to remove an infestation in the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

The DEP warns that even if water chestnut removal is successful, surrounding states are still infested and will act as a seed source. Seeds can drift down the Connecticut River, or be carried by birds in their feathers.

Vermont has spent over 2 million dollars since 1982 trying to remove water chestnut from Lake Champlain and other bodies of water. Massachusetts has infestations in the Connecticut and Charles Rivers and in a number of lakes and ponds. Last year Massachusetts spent $150,000 to control water chestnut in the Charles River alone. Since the 1950’s New York has been trying to control water chestnut which has spread from the Hudson River to nearby lakes and ponds.

Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is an aquatic weed that can form dense floating mats across shallow bodies of water, potentially making boating, fishing and swimming nearly impossible. This weed also shades out native aquatic plants and offers little value to wildlife. The seeds have sharp spines that can inflict puncture wounds. Boaters are advised to check and remove all flora from their boats before and after boating excursions to prevent spread. Please be on the lookout for this non-native invasive plant, and immediately report any sightings to the DEP and/or the Conservation Commission!